As the clocks turn back this weekend, don't forget FLSA rules
For many, the end of Daylight Saving Time signals an extra hour of sleep. But for employers, that extra hour can present an unexpected hitch in compensating nonexempt employees.
Picture this: Saturday, November 4, a nonexempt employee clocks in for her shift that starts at 11 p.m. At 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 5, she clocks out. But because she worked when Daylight Saving Time ended, she essentially worked the 1 o'clock hour twice, working nine hours, not eight. But if the employer's timekeeping system doesn’t recognize the time change, she'll be underpaid.
“It’s something people don’t think about,” said Angela Green, shareholder at Ogletree Deakins. It’s an issue that can be easily overlooked, especially for companies that still use handwritten time records, or who haven’t adjusted their electronic timekeeping systems, she said.
That extra hour of work can present several unanticipated challenges, in addition to an unpaid hour:
Breaks. In states requiring that employees take breaks at a certain point in their shifts, workers may not automatically get that time, says Caroline Brown, of counsel at Fisher Phillips. “For that day, back off of relying on the time keeping computer so much,” Brown suggests, and figure out the time manually.
Overtime. If that additional hour puts an employee at more than 40 hours during that workweek, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires the employee be paid overtime. Employees who fall under the “8 and 80” system — or in states that require daily overtime — may be eligible for overtime for that day.
Collective Bargaining Agreements. Employers should ensure that they are following any provisions in a collective bargaining agreement that addresses wage and hour provisions for time change.
Although appropriate tracking for the seasonal time change is frequently forgotten, it can be easily remedied, says Green.
The best approach is to go back to basics, Brown suggests. “There is a tendency for employers to focus on days and shifts when it comes to wage and hour requirements, when it’s really about staying true to the time of how many hours someone did the work.”
Whether timekeeping is manual or automatic, grab a pen and paper if necessary, and figure out the actual hours for that day, Brown says; “Give that payroll a glance to make sure everything lines up.” The same goes when spring rolls around: an employee working 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. when we turn the clocks forward must be paid for only seven hours of work.
It's worth noting that not all states and regions observe Daylight Saving Time, but if yours is one that does, be prepared so you — and your employees — can avoid any unpleasant wage and hour surprises.