The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) mandates that employers pay their employees for all hours worked. Employees don’t usually arrive at work and leave work on the hour, however. Many employers use a manual or digital rounding system. Employers can round their employees’ wages up or down as long as their time clock practices comply with federal and local employment laws. If you believe your employer is engaging in improper time rounding, the wage and hour attorneys at Lipsky Lowe, LLP can help.

New York City employers who engage in improper time rounding practices face severe penalties. Many employees have brought successful lawsuits against employers for improper time rounding practices in New York City. The employer’s time rounding system must be fair and evenly applied across the board. For example, employers who always round their employee’s hours down violate federal employment law. Each unfair time rounding practice may only result in a few minutes of lost paid time. However, over the years, or even decades, employees can lose thousands of dollars of unpaid wages due to time rounding violations.

Most New York City Employers Engage in Time Rounding

Most New York City businesses use a computerized time and attendance system to track the time worked by their hourly employees. Most of these systems automatically calculate the number of hours each employee has worked during a pay period. Usually, electronic time calculators round systems to one or more of the exact times:

  • The nearest five minutes (:00, :05, :10, etc.)
  • To the nearest one-tenth of an hour (:00, :06, :12, etc.)
  • To the nearest fifteen minutes (:00, :15, :30, etc.)

When a company rounds to the nearest ten minutes and en employee clocks in at 8:01, the time machine would automatically round down to 8:00 or up to 8:10. When the system rounds down, the employee loses 9 minutes of paid time. Federal and state law allows employers to engage in time clock rounding as long as they meet specific requirements.

The Employer’s Time Rounding System Cannot Be Unfair

Employers must apply their time rounding system fairly in both directions. An employer cannot always round down. For example, let’s say an employee clocked in at 8:01, and the employer rounds up to 8:10. Then the employee clocks out at 5:19, and the employer rounds down again to 5:10. The employee would lose a total of 18 minutes of paid work time in this scenario. In this case, the employer has broken federal employment law.

The FLSA requires that an employer’s time clock rounding practice “averages out so that the employees are fully compensated for all the time they work.” When an employer’s time rounding practice only benefits the employer, it will not average out to ensure employees are adequately compensated. In the example above, the employee would consistently lose paid time, every time he or she clocked in or out.

Employers Must Round to the Nearest Fifteen Minutes or Less

Employers must round to the nearest 5 minutes, the nearest one-tenth of an hour, or the nearest quarter of an hour. Rounding to any increment of time greater than 15 minutes is prohibited by the FLSA. According to the FLSA, the closest half-hour period is not insignificant or insubstantial enough to justify using it. The more considerable the amount of rounding time, the more potential for liability exposure.

When a New York City employer rounds up or down in 15-minute increments, the employer must cut off rounding down at 7 minutes. For example, if the employee works between 8 to 15 minutes, the employer must round the employee’s time up to the next fifteen minutes.

Other New York City Time Clock Violations

Many employers require their employees to wait until their assigned shift begins. When employers require employees to wait to clock in, they cannot require the employee to perform any work until the employee checks in and is on the clock. Employers must pay employees for all of the time in which the employee is working.

Additionally, employers cannot require, expect, or allow employees to work off the clock. Non-exempt employees who work on an hourly basis cannot waive their legal right to payment for all time worked. If your employer has asked you to work before you clock in, or to work after you’ve clocked out without pay, you may be entitled to compensation.

Filing an Improper Time Rounding Lawsuit in New York City

Despite the numerous federal lawsuits that have arisen regarding time rounding practices, many employers continue to engage in unlawful time rounding. Some employers likely assume that no employee would take the time to file a lawsuit over small amounts of unpaid time due to time rounding. Likewise, if your employer has been underpaying you due to unlawful time rounding, you might wonder if pursuing legal action is worth it.

Perhaps your employer has only been underpaying you $2 per day. Over time, your claim could be worth thousands of dollars. Employees who’ve experienced time clock violations can file a lawsuit for unpaid wages or through the FLSA.

Contact Our NYC Wage and Hour Violations Attorney

At Lipsky Lowe LLP, our lawyers can help you understand how much your claim may be worth. Successful claimants walk away with their lost wages, liquid damages, and the employer is required to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs. We have decades of experience investigating employer time rounding practices to prove wage violations. If you suspect that your employer has been engaging in improper time rounding practices, our employment law firm can help. Contact us today to learn how we can help you fight for your right to your unpaid wages.