Clock Work: What Is It & What Are My Rights?

by | Apr 1, 2022 | Current Events |

California wage and hour laws mandate that companies cannot require employees to work “off-the- clock” without monetary compensation. Working “off-the-clock” means that an employee does work for his or her employer, with the company’s knowledge, but without receiving any pay. In some instances, where an employee who even works for a few minutes before or after clocking in, or being “on-the-clock,” should be compensated for that time. That being said, sometimes California employers or supervisors expressly require that an employee work “off-the-clock.”

In other situations, an employer may subtly ask, or merely encourage, their employees to work “off-the-clock.” Some employers may require “off-the-clock” work or create an environment that tolerates this practice to avoid paying overtime wages. Some employees are so fearful of losing their job they unwillingly agree to the employer’s illegal policies and practices. Nonetheless, California law mandates all employers to pay employees for all work that occurs “off-the-clock.”

Here are some examples of “off-the-clock” that require compensation in California:

  • Pre-shift work, which can include time spent preparing a worksite, safety equipment, or a restaurant to open.
  • Post-shift work, such as equipment storage, delivering equipment to a new location, or cleaning up.
  • Administrative work, which may include completing medical charts or paperwork.
  • Correcting mistakes or redoing a project at the employer’s request.
  • Work performed by an employee during their meal or rest breaks.

“Off-the-clock” work may be work that would have been compensated by the company at the employee’s regular pay rate. However, most often, “off-the-clock” work is work that is usually completed by the employee that should be paid at one-and-a-half times or double the regular rate as overtime pay. If the “off-the-clock” work takes place after the eighth hour of work in any workday, you may be entitled to overtime compensation.

<p>Not all illegal “off-the-clock” work is specifically requested or demanded by an employer. A majority of California employers are somewhat familiar with the state’s wage and hour laws and, as a result, find more subtle ways to get employees to work without compensation. One example is when employers set up time clocks or sheets so that a worker cannot “clock-in” for pre-shift or post-shift work duties. Another example is where an employer may discourage its workers from reporting overtime. Last and most common, an employer may simply require more of the worker than can be reasonably done within their scheduled hours, resulting in the employee working beyond their shift without pay.</p>
<p>If you are working more hours without additional compensation, you may have a California “off-the-clock” wage claim against your employer for all the time you spend working “off-the-clock.”</p>