What are Legal Time Rounding Practices in New York State?

Personal Injury News | November 16, 2020

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), all employers must pay their employees for every hour they work. If you are an hourly employee, however, you may not always leave on the hour or arrive on the hour. In these situations, your employer must ensure that they follow time rounding guidelines to comply with federal wage and hour laws.

Unfortunately, not all employers follow these rules, rounding their employees’ time in order to reduce the amount of wages they have to pay. To ensure you receive fair and accurate wages, it is important to understand the laws about time rounding in New York state.

The Time Rounding System Must be Fair

New York does not impose specific laws on how to round hourly wages. Instead, the law requires employers to adhere to federal guidelines established by the FLSA. Title 29, Section 785.48 of the Code of Federal Regulations establishes the following rules for time rounding.

  • Employees must be fully compensated for all hours worked.
  • An employer’s time clock rounding practices must average out so that all employees receive full compensation for the hours they work.
  • An employer’s time rounding practices cannot only benefit the employer.

To comply with federal law, employers must apply their time rounding system fairly in all situations. An employer cannot always round down, for example, in order to avoid paying wages. For example, say an employee clocks in at 8:05 and the employer rounds it up to 8:10. The employee clocks out at 5:05, and the employer rounds it down to 5:00.

This employee will then lose 10 minutes of wages, which is a violation of federal law. If the employer consistently applies this practice, the employee will lose wages each time he or she goes to work. To average out the employee’s wages, the employer could round his or her 8:05 clock-in to 8:00 and continue to round his or her 5:05 clock-out to 5:00.

Employers Must Round to the Nearest 15 Minutes or Less

To avoid these inconsistencies and ensure each employee receives fair wages, the FLSA imposes certain rounding requirements. Employers must round to the nearest five minutes, the ten minutes, or the nearest 15 minutes.

If the employer is rounding up or down in 15-minute increments, he or she must begin rounding up between eight to 15 minutes. FLSA prohibits employers from rounding to any increment of time greater than 15 minutes.

  • If an employee clocks in at 8:04, the employer can choose to round the time down to 8:00, or up to 8:05, 8:10, or 8:15.
  • If an employee clocks in at 8:07 and the employer uses 15-minute increments, the employer must round down to 8:00. If the employee clocks in at 8:08, the employer can round the time up to 8:15.
  • If an employee clocks in at 8:04 and the employer rounds the time up to 8:30, the employer violates federal law.

The more rounding time the employer uses, the more vulnerable he or she is to liability. It is important for all New York state employers to establish guidelines on time rounding that comply with FLSA standards.

Getting Help from a Syracuse Wage and Hour Attorney

Complying with federal labor standards is a requirement for New York employers. If you believe your employer is engaging in unfair or illegal wage and hour practices and you are losing wages, contact a Syracuse employment attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you explore your legal options and secure your rightful wages.