Unfortunately, some employers will do whatever it takes to get out of paying employees overtime. They may use various underhanded methods to shave time, even though doing so is often illegal per U.S. labor laws. As a skilled overtime pay lawyer, The Lore Law Firm has represented numerous clients who have been the unfortunate victims of such practices, sometimes involving time clock rounding.
Of the different approaches employers may utilize to try to stiff you out of your overtime, time clock rounding is one of the most common. Knowing what time clock rounding is and how it impacts your overtime pay can save you from being shorted your hard-earned pay.
What Is Time Clock Rounding?
Time clock rounding occurs when an employer rounds your clock-in and clock-out times, either up or down. Rounding to the nearest quarter hour (15 minutes) is a common practice. For instance, if you clocked in at 1:27, time clock rounding means your employer would instead clock your time for pay purposes as 1:30. Sometimes, this works to your benefit, and it works in favor of the employer at others, but over time it will tend to balance out.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers can engage in time clock rounding with specific parameters. Understanding these parameters is the best way for you to protect yourself as an employee using the clock-in, clock-out system to record their time each workday.
How Can Time Clock Rounding Impact Your Overtime Pay?
Once you have surpassed 40 hours in a workweek, your employer is required to pay you time and a half for subsequent hours if you are a non-exempt employee. However, if your company engages in time clock rounding, it might be trickier to determine when you’ve reached that point. Time clock rounding can impact your overtime pay when it is not done correctly within the bounds of employment laws. In each span of fifteen minutes, employers can round down during the period between one and seven minutes but must round-up for anything between eight and fourteen minutes. When employers round down during times they should not be doing so, you may be missing out on overtime pay.
The Department of Labor has taken the position that rounding time in 15 minute increments is permissible, so long as the rounding policy does not always work in favor of the employer.
For example, an employer may only record and pay for time if employees work in full 15 minute increments. Let’s say the employee is making $20 per hour and is scheduled to work 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday, for a total of 40 hours a week. The employee always clocks out 12 minutes after the end of her shift, and the employee is paid $800 per week. This pay practice does not comply with the overtime pay laws because the end time should have been rounded up, not down, in each instance. This employee is owed pay for an hour each week (12 minutes times 5) that was not compensated.
Another potential rounding violation can occur when companies have timekeeping systems that are set up to pay workers from the scheduled start time of their shift to the scheduled end time of their shift instead of for their time based on the actual hours worked from punch-in to punch-out. Such systems are often programmed to automatically use the scheduled times rather than the employees’ actual clocked times. Timekeeping systems that are set up in this way can result in overtime wage law violations where the system is biased in favor of the employer and programmed to always round down.
If you know that your employer engages in time clock rounding and you are not certain that the system is fair and balanced, it may be time to consult an overtime pay lawyer. Confronting your employer on your own may not get you the desired results. While time clock rounding is not always illegal, some employers will try to use your lack of knowledge surrounding it to go further than they legally can in terms of rounding your time. In the end, this could be costly to you as an employee by depriving you of overtime pay you rightfully deserve.
Schedule a Consultation With an Overtime Pay Lawyer About Time Clock Rounding
If you suspect that your employer has engaged in time clock rounding in a way that has always caused you to miss out on overtime pay and want to know what your options may be, reach out to a qualified overtime pay lawyer. The Lore Law Firm has an extensive background in helping workers hold their employers accountable after uncovering shady practices, like always rounding down when engaging in time clock rounding.