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What Are California’s Laws on Rounding Work Hours in Employment?


If you work in California, you have a reasonable expectation of getting paid by your employer for every minute you work. However, if your employer does not compensate you for every minute you work for them – the practice is known as “rounding work hours” – you may wonder whether you can sue your employer for wage and hour violations.

To that end, exactly what are California’s laws on rounding work hours for employees? After all, incorrect rounding of work hours could result in you being underpaid, which is why it is important to understand your rights.

If you have been subjected to rounding work hours, speak with our Los Angeles wage & hour claim attorney at Litigation, P.C., to discuss your particular situation and determine whether you have grounds to sue your employer.

California Laws on Rounding Work Hours

California has adopted federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations for rounding employees’ time clock entries. Under 29 CFR § 785.48, employers are permitted to lawfully round an employee’s hours worked to the nearest:

  • Five minutes;
  • One-tenth of an hour; or
  • A quarter of an hour.

Employers can lawfully round an employee’s work time as long as doing so does not result in failure to fully compensate the worker for the time they actually worked.

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published an opinion letter in which it clarified that rounding of work hours should be neutral. In other words, the rounding practice should not benefit the employer or employee.

Rounding Worktime vs. Grace Period Policy

Many companies in California have adopted the so-called grace period system as an alternative to rounding worktime policies. This system allows an employee to clock in early and clock out late without compensating them for the extra shift time.

While the grace period policy assumes that employees do not work during those additional minutes before or at the end of their shift, the employee must be paid if the employer has control over what the worker does during the grace period.

While the grace period system is permitted under California law, employers can be sued for wage and hour violations if they direct their employees to work during the grace period but refuse to pay overtime.

What do I do if I’m Underpaid Due to Rounding Work Hours?

If you believe that you have been underpaid due to your employer’s rounding of work hours, you should consult with a skilled wage and hour claim lawyer in California to determine whether your rights have been violated.

You may have a right to compensation for the amount you were underpaid so long as you can prove that your employer’s rounding time policies were illegal. Also, keep in mind that the statute of limitations for a wage and hour claim is three years from the date of the most recent violation, according to the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §338.

Set up a consultation with our employment lawyer at Litigation, P.C., to determine whether you have grounds to sue your employer for rounding work hours and underpaying you. Call 424-284-2401 to get a case review.


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