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  • Time Clock Issues

    We are a medical practice of approximately 40 employees in Georgia. We recently switched to time clock reporting vs. handwritten time sheets. Several employees are clocking in prior to their scheduled shift start time. These employees are not scheduled or approved for overtime, simply clocking in early and then having a cup of coffee, etc. prior to their scheduled start time. Is it legal for our payroll department to edit their time cards and not pay them for clocking in early?

    Second question. Is it legal to assume a 30-minute lunch break and not have employees clock in and out for lunch? They would then have to write it on their time cards if it was necessary for them to work through their lunch break due to work issues.

  • #2
    Is it legal for our payroll department to edit their time cards and not pay them for clocking in early? Yes. Time cards may be edited to reflect actual time worked. This would only be illegal if the company were shaving off work time. (FYI, many companies have a work rule that employees may not clock in more than "X" minutes before the start of the shift so as to avoid the problem that you are experiencing. Additionally, some timekeeping systems allow the employer to program them so that employees are unable to clock in more than "X" minutes before the start of the shift as well.)
    Non-work time such as you describe is not compensible. Of course the reverse problem is that employees forget to go back and punch in after their coffee or just can't be bothered to do so. Sometimes in solving one problem, you create another.

    Is it legal to assume a 30-minute lunch break and not have employees clock in and out for lunch? They would then have to write it on their time cards if it was necessary for them to work through their lunch break due to work issues. Yes, you can program the system for a 30-minute default at lunch time (or assume the same when calculating work time.) But a word of caution 'cause a lot of employers get stung on this one. You must have a clearly communicated method of how employees should report when they work through all or part of their lunch period so that that time is paid. And if the employee's lunch break turns out to be less than 20 minutes, ALL that time must be paid.

    We see a lot of posts here from individuals whose employers' payroll systems automatically deduct 30 minutes for lunch and they're complaining that they've worked through lunch again and again and weren't paid for it - and responders here (including me) direct them to their State's DOL to file a complaint. You just want to be certain that when employees skip lunch, they absolutely are reporting that and are being paid for the time. You don't want any "unwritten rules" to develop among the supervisors and the workforce that hourly employees will have a 30-minute lunch break deducted from their time no matter what. I think that's what happens in a lot of cases and the employer isn't intending to violate wage and hour laws.

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    • #3
      time clock shaving

      I currently work at a company that only pays on the 15 of minuets. Example 1:00, 1:15, 1:30,ect.... Example: you work till 10:41 and clock out. They only pay you for working till 10:30. Is this legal or is this time clock shaving?

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