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Thread: Making Hourly Employees Clock Out When They Leave The Building Minnesota

  1. #1
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    Default Making Hourly Employees Clock Out When They Leave The Building Minnesota

    We have a policy that hourly employees must clock out anytime they physically leave the building, even if it is for a 15 minute break to run across the street and get coffee.

    Some employees are upset that they have to clock out when they leave the building. In Minnesota, is there any give here? Having employees on the clock while they are running around getting coffee can be a huge liability for the company. However if they choose to stay in the building and drink the company provided coffee, they get paid for that break.

    Thoughts? Comments?

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    Sure. Federal law is very clear breaks of 20 minutes or less are paid. it does not matter if you have the employees clock out or not. You still have to pay them.

    http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text...1.2.45.3.446.9

    785.18 Rest.Rest periods of short duration, running from 5 minutes to about 20 minutes, are common in industry. They promote the efficiency of the employee and are customarily paid for as working time. They must be counted as hours worked. Compensable time of rest periods may not be offset against other working time such as compensable waiting time or on-call time. ( Mitchell v. Greinetz, 235 F. 2d 621, 13 W.H. Cases 3 (C.A. 10, 1956); Ballard v. Consolidated Steel Corp., Ltd., 61 F. Supp. 996 (S.D. Cal. 1945))
    Last edited by DAW; 06-28-2012 at 05:22 PM.
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    But this does not answer my question as to whether or not they should remain punched in when they are physically not in the building. Does this not pose a liability for the company to have employees leaving the building and still remaining on the clock? Unless, they are running a company related errand.

    We do provide our employees with 2 paid 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute unpaid break. But we tell them to clock out if they leave for whatever reason. I was always told that employees should clock out when they leave the building. Even if it is to run to a local fast food place to pick up food, for example. I'm still a bit confused by this one.

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    As DAW noted, you can have them clock out but you still have to pay them for breaks of 20 min. or less.
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    The govenment does not care what you do with your timeclocks. The government cares very much that you pay breaks of 20 mintues or less no matter what the time clock says.

    By "liability" I assume you mean some liability unrelated to labor law? Like if one of your employees injuries themselves? If so, we are talking about very different laws then FLSA or laws related to paying the employee. And it is very likely that those laws do not care about your time clocks either.
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    If you believe it will reduce your liability to have employees clock out (rather than remaining on the clock) when leaving for a break, then have them clock out. Just be sure any breaks 20 min. or less are paid.

    If you have them clock out & back in, it is easier to keep track of just how long the break was that they took also.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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    Check with your Workers compensation insurance broker. But I would agree it is better for the employer if the employee is NOT on the clock. You just have to make sure they are doing nothing work-related and that you pay for any breaks less than 20 minutes.

    However, there have been some rulings that even if the employee is not on the clock, some things can be work-related. For example I read a case where an employee won WC because she was in an accident while driving outside of work hours and her phone notified her of a call/text. Since she was required to answer any calls/texts from her employer, she answered. And got in a wreck. And even though it was NOT her employer who called, she claimed the only reason she answered was in case it was her employer. At this point, the court/jury has sided with her. Who knows where it will go on appeal(s).

    We've also required clock outs because there have been times (lawsuits/depositions) where it was important to know who was on the grounds at a specific time. unfortunately that information can be needed much later and honestly who remembers where everyone was without the data?

    I found that the people who had the most problem with using the timeclocks are usually those that have something to hide.

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    We require all non-exempt employees to clock out when they leave the pemisis, even though all their break time is paid. For safety and liability reasons, we always need to know who's here and who's not. Nothing illegal about having your employees punch out when they leave and punch in when they return.

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    Employer/boss makes the rules & not the employees - just have them clock out & back in.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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    Agreed. having them clock in and out at least lets you know who is in and not in the building if there is ever an emergency. It also can help keep employees "honest" about how much time they are spending away from the office on breaks. For some employers this isn't an issue as long as the work is getting done but not every employer operates that way. It is a way to track this if the number and duration of breaks is an issue. Neither is right or wrong.

    If it is causing problems among the employees you need to look at why. Do they just resent that they need to do this? Is there a business justified reason you have this policy? Has that been shared? Is it a problem among just a few who are upset that they are taking longer breaks than allowed? It is legal as long as you are paying properly but you need to know why teh policy is in place, if it is achieving its purpose and why it is disliked.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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