Just a Lawyer in Lincoln's Hometown

August 22, 2017

Conscientious (or Scared) Employees Screwed by the Clock.

Filed under: Employment Law — Chuck @ 5:15 pm
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One of the more common methods of calculating pay for employees is “rounding.” Often employers will round employees’ time to a preset increment. In my experience it is to the nearest quarter-hour.

For example, if an employee clocks in at 8:55 a.m., the employer (or more likely the payroll company or software) will round the time to 9 a.m., erasing five minutes of work. Of course, if the employee clocks in at 9:05 a.m. the employer should round the time to 9:00 a.m. giving the employee a bonus.(The system was reasonable when all these calculations were made by hand – but that is rarely the case anymore.)

When rounding interacts with employer attendance policies, it can hurt employees. Conscientious employees tend to clock in a few minutes early in any case. But companies that strictly enforce tardy rules, get scared employees who don’t want to get in trouble for being late, and so they are coerced into clocking in early. in either case those extra minutes are rounded away.

The minutes add up. A 5-minute loss of time every work dayadds up to about 100 minutes per month per worker. While each individual worker loses only a little over an hour and a half of pay
per month (not insignificant but not usually enough to give the employee the incentive to take on the employer), the employer gets a lot of free work across the entire workforce.

Fairly applied rounding is generally allowed under existing wage rules. (Note that its not always applied fairly, I have encountered employers who rounded up all clock-ins, thus always stealing pay from the employee.)


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