Time Clock Rounding
Are my Massachusetts employer’s time clock rounding policies legal?
Employers in Massachusetts are required to pay their employees for all “working time” at the employee’s regular hourly rate. “Working time” is defined as “all time that the employee is required to be at the premises or at a designated location.” 454 C.M.R. § 27.02.
Massachusetts law allows employers to round an employee’s time entries to the “nearest five minutes, one tenth or quarter of an hour” but only so long as “working time averages out over a reasonable period of time so that an employee is fully compensated for all the time he or she actually worked.” 454 CMR § 27.07(3).
Many employers have rounding policies or practices that are not neutral on their face and ensure that time clock rounding favors the employer. For instance, an employer may round time entries to the nearest fifteen minutes but may have a policy that prohibits employees from clocking in to work more than 7 minutes prior to the start of the shift and more than 7 minutes after the end of their shift.
Therefore, an employee who clocks in at 7:55 a.m. and clocks out at 4:05 p.m. would have worked a total of 8 hours and 10 minutes but paid only for 8 hours. Employers may also violate rounding policies by penalizing workers who clock in to work after the precise start of the shift (for example, an employer that imposes discipline if an employee who is scheduled to start work at 8:00 a.m. clocks in at 8:02 p.m.).
While the amount of time at issue may seem insignificant, employers who violate rounding policies can, over time, end up retaining the hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars or more in wages that should have been paid to their employees. Massachusetts law entitles employees who sue for unpaid wages to recover three times the amount of the unpaid wages plus attorney’s fees, interest, and costs. M.G.L. c. 149 §§ 148, 150. At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, we bring individual and class action claims against employers that violate our wage and hour laws.
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