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Employee Rights Regarding Pay for All Hours Worked for Employer

Posted by attorney Christopher Canlas

Under California law, an employee must be paid for all “hours worked." The term “hours worked" means the time during which an employee is subject to the control of any employer, and includes all of the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.

This violation manifests itself in several different situations, for instance, when an employer shaves off time from your timecard. You worked 8 hours and 14 minutes, but your employer shaves off 14 minutes and only pays you for 8 hours. A shrewd employer may contend that it was engaged in lawful rounding. Indeed, rounding to the nearest five minutes, one-tenth or quarter hour for purposes of calculating the number of hours worked is allowed, but it is subject to certain restrictions. The practice of rounding must be used in such a manner that it will not result, over a period of time, in failure to compensate the employees properly for all the time they have actually worked. Put it differently, an employer may not rely on this policy to arbitrarily fail to count as hours worked any part, however small, of the employee’s fixed or regular working time or practically ascertainable period of time he is regularly required to spend on duties assigned to him. Courts have held that working time amounting to $1 of additional compensation a week is “not a trivial matter to a working man," and was not insignificant. Thus, if the rounding was done only one way, this rounding that effectively shaves off minutes from each workday is a failure to pay for all hours worked.

This violation can also be seen in the context of employers’ failure to pay for employees’ travel time. For instance, if an employee is required to report to the employer’s business premises before proceeding to an off-premises work site, all of the time from the moment of reporting until the employee is done with his workday is time subject to the control of the employer, and therefore constitutes hours worked. However, it should be noted that time spent traveling to and from work (i.e., commuting time) is not compensable or counted toward hours of work.

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Filed under: Employee rights