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What Is the Law on Clocking In and Out of Work?

What Is the Law on Clocking In and Out of Work?

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What Is the Law on Clocking In and Out of Work?

As of May 2019, records show that the average American worker clocks in around 34.5 hours a week. For many of us, that number is even higher. 

Whether you are working part-time, full-time, or somewhere in between, it helps to know your legal rights and responsibilities as an employee in the U.S. 

If you have long wondered — “What is the law on clocking in and out at work?” — you’ve come to the right place. 

There is a range of federal laws regarding the recording of working hours. To learn more about your obligations, keep reading. And as always, visit our contact page to schedule a free case evaluation with a Morgan & Morgan attorney.

Learn About the Fair Labor Standards Act and How It Applies to You

We can’t talk about what is the law on clocking in and out at work without first defining the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This enactment was created in 1938 as a part of the federal government’s Wage and Hour Division. 

The FLSA establishes youth employment standards, minimum wage, overtime pay, and record-keeping, among its many purposes. If you want to learn more about what is the law on clocking in and out at work, this is where you start.

Regarding timekeeping, employers are generally required to keep accurate records of hours, wages, and other important details. This may translate to the required use of a time clock, depending on the nature of your work and employment agreement. Keep reading, and we’ll dive a little deeper.

What the FLSA Says About the Use of Time Clocks

First, you should know that the use of time clocks is not required by federal law. However, your employer may make it a standard of your employment to keep accurate records. 
When an employer uses time clocks, you may only clock in for the hours you are assigned to work.

Suppose that you voluntarily arrive before your agreed-upon starting time or linger after your agreed-upon quitting time. In that case, your employer is not obligated to pay you unless you can prove that you worked during that time.

Sometimes, employers record their employees’ starting and quitting times to the nearest quarter of an hour. That is legally allowed, so long as the system does not, over time, fail to count consequential hours of employment.

How to Clock In and Out for Insignificant Periods of Time

Now that you have a basic understanding of how time clocks work under the FLSA, you may still have a remaining question or two. Take, for example, the issue of insignificant periods of time worked.

If you are required to pop into the workspace to perform a quick task, you may wonder whether you should clock in and out for that time. According to the FLSA, those seconds and moments may be disregarded for payroll purposes, so long as common sense doesn’t dictate otherwise.

Unfortunately, you may have realized that the FLSA leaves several “gray areas” for interpretation. A good rule of thumb is that if you believe your employment agreement is being violated, call an attorney to discuss the situation more fully. 

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FAQ

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  • What Is the Law on Clocking In and Out at Work? Understand Your Right to Overtime Pay

    As an employee in the United States, you have many rights you may or may not be aware of. One of those rights is overtime pay — at least in certain situations. These rights are likewise defined under the FLSA, which was covered earlier. Here’s what you should know:

    • Unless you are exempt, you are entitled to at least time and one-half of your regular rate of pay for any hours over 40 hours worked in a workweek
    • Your employer is not required to pay overtime for work on holidays, Sundays, or Saturdays unless those hours exceed the 40 hour-standard
    • A “workweek” does not need to coincide with a traditional calendar week but can begin at any hour of any day for a period of 168 hours (or seven consecutive 24-hour periods)
    • Your employer may not average the hours between two or more weeks to deny overtime pay

    If you have questions about your right to overtime pay or believe your employer has violated this right, please get in touch. We can help you better understand this principle and the law on clocking in and out at work. 

  • When an Employer Tries to Withhold a Paycheck

    Another area of employee-rights law that we see come up frequently is the issue of withholding paychecks. Namely, our clients want to know if it is ever legal and how you can dispute a withheld paycheck. 

    Generally speaking, your employer never has the right to withhold a paycheck from you unless you have outstanding debts to the employer or were fired for theft or damage. It’s also possible for an employer to keep a paycheck until you have returned company property, such as a set of keys or a parking pass. 

    If you believe that your paycheck is being wrongfully withheld, you should speak with an attorney.

    Your Other Rights as an Employee

    As for the rest of your rights as an employee, there are several other laws determining what is and isn’t allowed in the workplace. If you’re wondering — “What is the law on clocking in and out at work?” — basically, you should know that because of federal, state, and local laws, you have the following rights:

    To Remain Free From Harassment and Discrimination

    If you are ever harassed, discriminated against, or otherwise treated less favorably in the workplace for these reasons, you should call an attorney:

    • Your age
    • Your race
    • Your sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation
    • Your religion
    • Your national origin
    • A disability

    Your employer cannot make any decisions related to your employment because of the aforementioned factors. 

    To Receive Equal Pay for Equal Work

    Because of the Equal Pay Act, men and women who are employed in the same place of work must be given equal pay for the same type and amount of work. The jobs don’t even have to be identical, but if the job content is essentially equal, the pay should be equal. 

    As for equal pay, this includes your base salary. But it also includes overtime pay, bonuses, life insurance, vacation days, stock options, and more. 

    To Receive Reasonable Accommodations

    Employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations for you to allow for a medical condition or religious belief. Essentially, the employer must create a work environment that allows people of all abilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities.

    According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is any physical or mental impairment that limits a person’s major life activities. An employer is legally allowed to request medical documentation from a health care provider to confirm the need for accommodation.

    To Expect Confidentiality

    You also have a right to confidentiality regarding any medical or genetic information that you share with your employer in the workplace. Violation of this right could result in a civil suit for invasion of privacy.

    To Report Discrimination Without Retaliation

    If you happen to report an instance of discrimination against you or another employee, you should do so without fear of retaliation. Under the law, employers cannot punish you for participating in discrimination investigations or lawsuits.

    It is important that you know and understand your rights as an employee in the United States.

    Getting to a well-informed place will help you to better protect and defend these rights should they ever be violated.

    Whether you’re asking — “What is the law on clocking in and out at work?” — or some other work-related question, trust Morgan & Morgan to give you all of the facts. 

  • Can My Employer Clock Me In and Out?

    As long as the time is recorded accurately, your employer is legally allowed to clock you in and out. However, if doing so violates your employment agreement, you may want to speak with your employer about how to better handle the situation. 

    If an employer clocking you in and out has resulted in inaccurate payment, it may be worth speaking to an attorney.

  • Can I Legally Clock Another Person In and Out?

    Again, it is perfectly legal to clock another person in and out, even if you are only a coworker and not an employer. The important detail is whether the information is accurate or not.

  • Is an Employer Ever Legally Allowed to Withhold My Paycheck?

    An employer may hold a paycheck until repayment for a debt or the return of property. However, if your employer attempts to withhold a paycheck indefinitely, you should contact your state’s Department of Labor. 

  • When to Hire an Attorney for Unpaid Wages

    To make a long story short, you are owed a fair wage for your work. If your employer refuses to pay you fully, you may want to contact an attorney who specializes in unpaid wages. 
    Here are some scenarios that definitely demand a call to an attorney:

    • You are being paid less than minimum wage
    • You are not being allowed a paid break time as required by law
    • You are not being paid for “off the clock” work
    • You are not being paid a minimum of time-and-a-half for overtime work
    • You are not being paid for unused vacation time

    No unpaid wages claims are ever cut and dry. This area of the law leaves room for a lot of interpretation. For that reason, it’s in your best interest to speak with an attorney about whether you have a case. 

    Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation Today

    If you are ready to learn more about your rights as an employee, get in touch with an attorney from Morgan & Morgan. We are very experienced in this field of law and would love to discuss your situation more specifically. Simply visit our contact page to schedule your free case evaluation today.

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