Rounding Hours/Shaving Minutes

Federal and state laws generally require an employer to pay a nonexempt employee wages for all the time which he or she works. State laws may create standards which are significantly different from federal requirements for employers regarding payment of wages.

Under federal law, an employer is required to pay an employee for all hours worked. "Hours worked" under federal law 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 do. It is not limited to hours spent in active, productive labor.

In California, "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 is not limited to hours spent in active, productive labor. It 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. This duty requires an employer to pay an employee for off-the-clock work, which is time worked before or after their scheduled shift, if the employer knew or should have known that the employees were working those hours. This may also include time which an employee spends in active labor or under the control of the employer but which the employer improperly shaves that time from an employee's hours worked by automatic deduction of meal periods or by "rounding" practices.

Employers may use a payroll practice which only pays employees for the time that they are scheduled to work even though the employee may be under the control of the employer prior to their scheduled shift or after their scheduled shift ends. This practice results in wages which the employer fails to pay the employee for this off-the-clock work.

An employer may also secretly delete time from an employee's time records in an effort to keep payroll hours low and increase the company's bottom line. This illegal doctoring of hourly employees' time records is often referred to as time shaving and results in unpaid wages for the time cut from the time records.

An employer may also use another form of time shaving by using the practice of "rounding." Rounding is often used in industries where time clocks are used and the employer records the employees' starting time and stopping time to the nearest 5 minutes, or to the nearest one-tenth or quarter of an hour. Under federal law, such rounding may be acceptable as long as the rounding works both ways (both for and against the employer); the rounding increments do not exceed a quarter of an hour (15 minutes); and the rounding is used in such a manner that it will not result, over a period of time, in failure to compensate the employees properly for all the time they have actually worked. However, employers often use rounding systems when it is not appropriate. In addition, it is not clear under California law whether it is ever appropriate for an employer to use the practice of rounding. Accordingly, rounding practices may often result in unpaid wages for time which is improperly rounded.

A complex set of federal and state statutes govern payment of wages. Federal law sets the minimum standards for an employer, but state laws may create higher standards. Numerous exceptions exist which alter an employer's duties for payment of wages. To navigate the complex statutes regarding payment of wages, an employee needs to speak to an experienced attorney who is familiar with the law in this area. The attorneys of Lavi & Ebrahimian, LLP, are experienced in investigating, negotiating and litigating wage and hour lawsuits on a class action basis and on an individual basis.

If you believe that your employer has failed to follow the law in payment of your wages, contact Lavi & Ebrahimian, LLP, today for a free consultation. Our experienced employment attorneys will evaluate your options under the law and can help you obtain the most complete relief possible.