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Does your employer steal from you by rounding down your time?

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2020 | wage and hour violations

With computer technology readily accessible, many companies rely on digital timekeeping services that are accurate to the second. This helps to ensure that they have the most accurate information about when employees arrive to and leave work. It also helps prevent omissions and claims of wage theft by employees.

Unfortunately, there are still many companies that may require manual time clock entries by their workers. Often, these scenarios require that the employee report their time to the nearest five minutes, 10 minutes or 15 minutes. That usually means that the employee must round their time either up or down.

Rounding a worker’s time means that there are times they get paid for minutes they don’t work, as well as times when they don’t get paid for minutes they do work. If your employer has you rounding your time for pay, especially if they use 15-minute increments, it’s important to know your rights as a worker.

Rounding should be fair, not just beneficial to the employer

Some companies will try to tell their staff that they must always round their time down. For workers on a 15-minute increment, that could mean that you work 14 unpaid minutes regularly. In order to prevent abusive employers from stealing from workers who deserve compensation for their time, there is a federal rule regarding rounding time in 15-minute increments.

Specifically, the seventh minute is the cutoff for rounding up or rounding down. If a worker has 7 minutes and 59 seconds of work, they round down to the nearest 15-minute increment. If they have worked 8 minutes or more, they round up.

Obviously, there is a slight extra benefit to the employer here, but overall, the focus is on fairness based on case-by-case application. Provided that your employer allows you to round up and down depending on the time that you leave, they may not be in violation of your rights. If they demand that you round down or manipulate you so that you always work unpaid minutes, they may have stolen some of your wages.

Start documenting your time if you want to hold your employer accountable

If your boss routinely expects you to report fewer minutes than you actually worked, relying on company time card records won’t necessarily help substantiate your claim of unpaid wages.

You might want to start using your digital camera to take a picture of your time card when you clock in and out, thereby showing the discrepancy between when you arrive and leave and what time you receive pay for. While doing so many feel tedious, it is usually better to have more data than you need than to not have documentation for your unpaid hourly wages that your employer has denied.