Time Clocks Are Stealing Your Wages

January 18, 2023 - Wage Theft

Time clocks—computers used every day by hourly and shift workers—can be programmed to steal your wages. Companies program these time clocks to “round” your time down and shortchange workers for minutes each day. These minutes add up to hours, which add up to hundreds and thousands of dollars stolen from a worker each year. “Rounding” is used to nickel and dime workers, even though time-clock software can precisely record the time worked to the minute without any need to “round” down. Usually, companies will round to the quarter hour. So, arriving at work at 8:53 am would be rounded to 9:00 am. This is typically coupled with employer policies prohibiting clocking in more than seven minutes early.

In Oregon, workers must be paid for “all hours worked; ” in California, workers must be compensated for any hours he or she is “suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” California case law holds that “suffer or permit” means work the employer knew or should have known about. So, in California and Oregon, time clock rounding is likely illegal. Portland employment lawyers, nonetheless, routinely see “rounding” claims and improper “don’t clock in too early” policies used to cheat workers out of thousands in earned wages. Workers should be paid for ALL time on the job, even if that worker arrives early. When programs are used to track precisely how many hours are worked, there is no excuse for rounding.

You may think the loss of 5 minutes on your time sheet “here or there” isn’t a big deal. However, these minutes add up to hours, which add up to days of work…all uncompensated. It may also lower your overall overtime compensation. An employment lawyer in Portland can answer any questions you may have about “rounding” and wage theft. 

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