Time rounding practices in serious question

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Time rounding policies have been a source of unsettled contention and conflicting court rulings recently. The most recent California Court of Appeal came down against the practice in Woodworth v. Loma Linda Univ. Med. Ctr. The plaintiff in that case claimed that she was not paid for all hours worked as a result of the employer’s practice of rounding time punches to the nearest tenth of an hour. As a neutral rounding policy, it was established that 51.4% of employees were paid for more time than they were on the clock, that 47.4% were paid for less, and the remaining 1.1% were unaffected. Despite this, and other decisions upholding neutral time rounding policies, the Woodworth court instead followed Camp v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., which held that when an employer can and has captured the exact amount of time an employee worked, the employer must pay the employee for all the time worked.

As such, apparently due to the time clock systems available to employers to precisely capture and calculate hours worked, time rounding practices are not regarded as having practical import as they had in the past. The California Supreme Court is set to decide another case involving payment for all time worked which will have bearing on this issue, so stay tuned. Given the Court’s propensities to favor employees in its review of wage/hour cases, employers should already be moving away from any time rounding practices and instead paying employees exactly for all hours worked.