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When you work through your lunch break or clock out and then continue to do your job, people will say that you are “working off the clock.” Common examples of off-the-clock work could include a manager telling a service worker to clock out because the company has already reached their limit for staff hours for the day but then to continue to do prep work for the next shift before they get to go home or tip out for the day.

Asking you to wait to clock in or to return to work while on your meal break could also constitute having you work off the clock. Regardless of how long your employer has been doing it or how many of your coworkers allow themselves to get bullied into working off the clock, your employer has no right whatsoever to expect you to work without compensation. Doing so is a violation of your basic right to a fair hourly wage for the time you work, all in the name of company profits.

As an hourly worker, you should receive payment for every minute you work

Companies are always looking for a way to maximize their profits, and all too often, they do it at the expense of their employees. Stealing wages but from employees by making them work while off the clock or rounding their time down by 5- or 15-minute increments can be a way for the company to secure a few extra hours of unpaid work every week, which can add up significantly over time.

Having you clock out and work for an extra 10 minutes or wait 10 minutes every day before you clock in after arriving to work may not seem like much. After all, if you work five days a week, that isn’t even a full hour of time.

However, if you expand that over the course of a full year, your employer will have stolen more than an entire week’s worth of paid work from you. Those 10 minutes a day add up to more than 43 hours of unpaid work. Across a pool of dozens of workers, that represents thousands of dollars in extra profits for the employer who gleans that money at the expense and time of the people they employ.