Federal and California laws generally require employers to pay employees for all time worked. Federal and California laws have different standards regarding payment of wages and hours worked.
Under federal law, “hours worked” means the time during which an employee is required to be on duty or to be on the employer’s premises or at a prescribed workplace and all time during which an employee is suffered or permitted to work whether or not required to. It is not limited to hours spent in active productive, labor.
Under California law, “hours worked” means the time during which an employee is required to be on duty or to be on the employer’s premises or at a prescribed workplace and all time during which the employer is aware or should be aware the employee is working whether or not the employer requires the employer to do so. Working time in California generally includes time that the employee is working but is not subject to the employer’s control, including unauthorized overtime, which the employer has not requested or required as long as the employer should have known the employee was working overtime.
Compensation For Off-The-Clock Work
Employers are required to pay employees for “off-the-clock” work, which is time worked before or after an employee's scheduled shift, if the employer knew or should have known that the employees were working those hours.
If an employer requires an employee to arrive early to work before the employee’s scheduled start time to prepare for the day’s work, such as cleaning a worksite or to make sure that equipment is at the employee’s worksite, then the employer is generally required to pay the employee for this preparation time. A California employer’s failure to pay wages for this preparation time may result in unpaid wages to which the employee is entitled.
Donning or Doffing
If an employer requires an employee to wear a uniform or protective gear to perform the duties of a job, then the employer is generally required to pay the employee for the time it takes to take off and put on this uniform or protective gear. A California employer’s failure to pay wages for time spent “donning or doffing” uniforms or protective gear may result in unpaid wages to which the employee is entitled.
Employers may secretly delete time from an employee’s time records in an effort to keep the company’s payroll budget low and to increase the company’s profits. Such doctoring of an hourly employee’s time records is often referred to as “time shaving” and results in unpaid wages for the time “shaved” from the time records. One way to determine if your employer may be depriving you of earned wages is to look at your pay stubs. If your pay stubs show that your total number of hours worked in a pay period regularly end in __.00, __.25, __.50, or __.75, then you may not be receiving wages for all hours that you have worked. This is because employees rarely clock in and out exactly on the scheduled starting and ending times. This practice of shaving can have a significant impact on how much you are paid for your work over time.
Employers may also use a computerized time-keeping system that is set up to round an employee’s recorded clock-in and clock-out times to the nearest five, ten, or fifteen minutes when calculating the employee’s wages. This may result in non-payment of wages for a portion of the time worked each workday.
Under federal law, such rounding may be acceptable so long as (1) the rounding works both for and against the employer, (2) the rounding increments do not exceed a quarter of an hour, and (3) the rounding is used in such a manner that it will not result, over a period of time, in a failure to compensate the employees properly for all the time they have actually worked.
Under California law, "an employer is entitled to use the nearest-tenth rounding policy if the rounding policy is fair and neutral on its face and ‘it is used in a such a manner that it will not result, over a period of time, in a failure to compensate the employees properly for all the time they have actually worked.'" See’s Candy Shops, Inc. v. Sup. Ct., 210 Cal. App. 4th 889, 907 (2012), review denied (Feb. 13, 2013). It is not clear whether it is ever legal under California law for an employer to use the practice of rounding to anything other than the nearest-tenth of an hour. Accordingly, rounding practices may often result in unpaid wages for time which is improperly rounded.
Meal Break Auto-Deduct
Employees who work more than five hours in a work day are entitled to an uninterrupted meal break of at least thirty (30) minutes. Employers may use a computerized time-keeping system that automatically deducts thirty (30) minutes each day from an employee’s time record whether or not the employee was provided a thirty (30) minute meal break.
To determine if your employer uses an automatic deduction for meal breaks, look at your pay stubs. In a five-day workweek, an automatic daily deduction of thirty (30) minutes adds up to a total of two-and-one-half (2.5) hours of deducted time per week, or five hours of unpaid work in a typical two-week pay period.
Contact Sani Law Today
We will aggressively pursue compensation from employers that fail to follow the law. If you are not receiving compensation for all hours that you have worked, Contact Sani Law today to schedule a free initial consultation.