EMPLOYERS MUST BE CAREFUL WHEN ROUNDING EMPLOYEE TIME PUNCHES
Many employers round their employee’s time punches. With respect to time worked, if the rounding policy is neutral (i.e., it does not favor the employee or the employer) rounding employee’s time punches for time worked is fine. But can an employer’s time rounding policy also be extended to meal periods? The California Supreme Court recently answered this question with an emphatic “no.”
In Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC the California Supreme Court held that even if a meal period rounding policy fully compensated employees over time, the “practice of rounding time punches for meal periods is inconsistent with the purpose of the Labor Code,” as well as with IWC wage orders. This is because an employee must be allowed a minimum of a 30 minutes meal period, and that minimum amount cannot be infringed upon even if the employee’s average meal period time was 35 minutes or even 37 minutes. This is because any meal period of less than 30 minutes constitutes a violation of the California Labor Code.
Therefore, employers must take great care by ensuring that any time punch rounding system employed only applies to time worked and not to meal periods. Otherwise, employers could find themselves defending a torrent of meal break violation claims down the road.
Author’s Bio: Douglas A. Plazak