Employers often use time clocks to help keep a record of the time worked by employees. Federal and California laws require the employer to accurately keep track of an employee's time worked.

In California, the employer must provide an employee with an itemized wage statement for each period which accurately states a breakdown of the hours worked by the employee and the wages paid for those hours. The wage statement should generally match the employee's timecard.

Under federal law, the employer may round the employee's time cards if specific circumstances exist. However, the rounding practice cannot work to the disadvantage of the employee over time.

Employers often assume that the rounding works in both directions and averages out over time. In other words, employers assume that the employee shows up a few minutes early on some days and shows up a few minutes late on other days. So in the end the payment to the employee averages out.

However, when other workplace rules are in effect, such as strict policies against tardiness or policies requiring the employee to be at work 10 minutes early, the rounding can be systematically skewed. This unpaid time which the employer shaves off of the employee's timecards can add up even though it is only minutes each day.

California law employs different standards than federal law. California law does not expressly authorize rounding practices and requires an employer to pay an employee for all time which the employee is under control of the employer, not just the time that the employee is suffered or permitted to work.

In addition to rounding, employers often use policies which result in employees performing work before they clock in or after they clock out. This policy may be as simple as requiring the employee to show up 10 minutes early or may involve time the employee travels between worksites. The employer may fail to pay the employee for this "off the clock" time.

Employers may require an employee sign his or her timecard to verify that the timecard is accurate. In some instances, the employer requires the employee to sign the timecard even when the employer is aware that the timecard is not accurate.

Effective January 1, 2009, it is a misdemeanor for an employer to purposely require an employee to sign a false timecard as a condition for the payment of their wages. This law was a reaction to employers trying to protect themselves against wage and hour claims by requiring employees to admit to an inaccurate amount of hours that he or she worked.

A complex set of laws govern the requirements of what constitutes time which the employer must compensate an employee. Exceptions may limit what time the employer is required to pay the employee. To navigate the complex statutes regarding whether you are receiving wages in compliance with California law, you need to speak to an experienced attorney who is familiar with the law in this area.

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.