Zealous bosses can't unfairly round off time employee works

CAN THEY DO THAT?

April 05, 2006|By CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN | CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN,NEWSDAY

I have to punch a time clock at work. If I run late and clock in eight minutes or more into any quarter of an hour, I am docked for the full 15 minutes. For example: If I punch in at 9:08 a.m., I'm docked as if I punched in at 9:15. I also catch it at the other end of the day: If I leave at 5:23 p.m. instead of my usual 5:30 quitting time, I am docked as if I left at 5:15 p.m. Is this legal?

No, it's not legal. Your manager is a rounding zealot and is violating the intent of the federal labor law giving companies the right to record time in manageable intervals.

The law allows businesses to round up but not exclusively to their benefit. According to Section 785.48 of the Code of Federal Regulations: "For enforcement purposes, this practice of computing working time will be accepted, provided that it 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 actually worked."

In the example you gave: If the company always rounds up at the beginning of the day, then by law it should also round up, not down, at the end of the day to make sure the rounding covers all the time you worked.

I have worked as an assistant manager at a retail company for about three months. Every week I've noticed a discrepancy between the hours on my time clock record and the hours sent to payroll at the end of the week.

I finally went through an audit log and found that the manager was shaving a few minutes off the time I worked each day.

If I punched in at 1:25 p.m., she would record 1:30 p.m. Over the course of the week, those shavings add up to cuts of 25 to 30 minutes. ... I am considering contacting the district manager, but I fear losing my job. What would you advise?

The same section of the law noted above says that employees who clock in before their starting time or punch out after quitting time have to be paid if they are working during those times. ... Either ask the manager, in a polite but firm way, to pay you for the extra time -- or stop clocking in early.

carrie.draffen@newsday.com

Carrie Mason-Draffen writes for Newsday.

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