Kansas City Lawyers Representing Whistleblowers and Employees Nationwide

Time Clock Rounding: Is it Legal?

With the advent of electronic time clocks, employers have been able to track the hours employees work with greater accuracy and efficiency. However, the use of electronic time clocks and computers have also made it easier than ever for employers to monitor and sometimes modify when employees clock in and out.

It's a little known fact, but the law allows employers to round employees' hours just as long as it doesn't result in the loss of money to the employee. An employer can round to the nearest five, ten or even fifteen minute increment at the beginning or end of an employee's shift. However, it is illegal for the employer to round so that it is always in the employer's favor. So rounding forward at the beginning of a shift and backwards at the end of a shift would not be allowed.

For example, let's assume the employer wants to round to the nearest five minutes. If an employee's shift begins at 9:00 and the employee clocks in at 8:56, the employer can automatically round that employee's time to 9:00. However, if the employee clocks out at 5:03, the employer must round the employee's time to 5:05, the nearest five minutes. If the employee's time is rounded to 5:00, the rounding would be in the employer's favor and is likely illegal.

The theory behind rounding is that over long periods of time the rounding sometimes favors the employer and sometimes favors the employee. It is generally thought that the rounding will average out and neither the employer nor the employee will gain any advantage.

However, rounding becomes tricky because the only way that it is legal for an employer to round an employee's time is to ensure that the time clock rounding is done in an equal and fair way. Unfortunately, many employers get this wrong and employees are left with losing money on their paychecks.

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