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Is Off-the-Clock Work Illegal?

Is off-the-clock work illegal?

What does the Fair Labor Standards Act have to say about off-the-clock work?

Are wage and hour laws violated if an employer forced non-exempt employees to work off the clock?

Is an employee owed unpaid wages if they clocked out and then received another assignment from their boss?

Is a wage and hour lawsuit possible if a boss expected or insisted that an employee work through a rest or meal break?

Once an employee clocks out, the time following that is theirs; they are not required to accomplish any more work unless they are being paid. If your employer is forcing you to work off the clock, they could be violating California’s labor laws.

That’s where the unpaid wage attorneys at Lawyers for Justice, PC come in.

In California, off-the-clock work refers to any work performed by an employee for which they are not compensated. California wage and hour laws require that employers pay employees for all hours worked. Employers are generally not allowed to require, or allow, employees to participate in off-the-clock work without compensation. However, there are some exceptions and specific situations where off-the-clock work may occur.

Under California wage and hour laws, employees must be paid (at least minimum wage) for all working hours that they are under the control of the employer, regardless of whether the hours worked were authorized or requested. These wage and hour laws include protections for tasks such like attending meetings, training sessions, completing paperwork, or performing work-related tasks.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is a law that applies to most workers, most hourly employees should be paid overtime when working beyond 40 hours per week for all the work done for their employers.

Employers must also compensate employees for any work done during meal and rest breaks (sometimes referred to as a lunch break). Employees are entitled to take meal breaks of at least 30 minutes for every five hours of work, unless the workday is completed in six hours or less and both the employer and employee agree to waive the meal break. Rest breaks of at least 10 minutes per four hours of work, or a major fraction thereof, must also be provided and paid to avoid unpaid wages claims.

If an employee believes they have performed off-the-clock work and were not appropriately compensated at least minimum wage, they may have grounds to file wage and hour lawsuits or pursue legal action against their employer. It’s advisable for employees – especially non-exempt employees who rely heavily on clocking in and out of their job – to keep detailed records of their work hours and any instances of off-the-clock work. Those records can be used as evidence if they want to recover unpaid wages in case of an employment law dispute.

Labor laws can be complex. There may be additional factors or exceptions depending on specific job roles, working hours, federal law, industry regulations, or collective bargaining agreements. If a California worker has concerns about off-the-clock work or they believe their rights as an employee were been violated, it’s recommended to consult with an employment law attorney or contact the California Labor Commissioner’s Office for guidance.

The employment law attorneys at Lawyers for Justice, PC have been fighting for California workers for over a decade and have recovered back wages, unpaid overtime, unpaid break wages, and lost wages for off-the-clock work.

Both employees and employers need to due their due diligence to prevent and/or remedy off-the-clock complications.

Employer POV

Employers should monitor their employee’s activity to ensure that even if they are working extra hours, those extra hours are permitted by the employer. If the employees stays at the office late and expects to be paid for work that was not assigned nor required, the employee’s extended office hours could turn into a problem. And likewise, employees need to monitor their clock-in and clock-out times to ensure that their paychecks are reflecting the correct amount of hours worked. If an employee was asked to work two hours longer on a Monday and their paycheck does not reflect the additional hours worked, the employer could be at fault.

Find out the 10 Pieces of Information that Should be Included on Every Paystub

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Is It Illegal To Work Off The Clock? – FAQ

can my employer make me work without pay? An employer is required to pay a non-exempt employee at least the minimum wage for every hour they worked. If they have not received payment for all hours worked, their employer may have violated minimum wage law (even if they earn more than minimum wage).

can your boss text you off the clock? According to the Department of Labor (DOL), all of the time that your non-exempt employees spend working inside or outside the office must be tracked, paid, and included in overtime calculations. This includes anything more than “de minimis”, or minimal, time spent discussing work-related issues, as well as downtime during which an employee was considered “engaged to wait.”

Saying that participation in a group text is “optional” can be tricky. If an employer sends an “optional” work question to their team and then expresses frustration because no one responded, the employee can make the case that participation in the chat was a requirement of their job duties, and that time spent texting should therefore be paid according to the law.

Similarly, when employees do participate in an “optional” group text and are given special rewards or consideration over those who do not, employees could make a case that participation in the group text was actually a requirement of their job.

what is stealing time at work? Time theft occurs when an employee is not working while on the job, or they are not at work when they are supposed to be. This ranges from avoiding responsibilities to clocking in for hours they did not work.

is it illegal to work off the clock? Working off the clock is illegal under California labor laws. Any work- off-the-clock, whether it be seconds or minutes, must be compensated.

can your employer clock you in and out? Your employer cannot clock you out without your knowledge.

can an employer adjust your hours to avoid overtime pay? No, the employee must be responsible for clocking themselves out. Employers must be their salaried employees and hourly workers for all job-related activities, even if that means the employee gets paid overtime.

is it illegal for an employer to change time cards? Yes. It is unlawful for an employer to to not pay an employee for all their working hours.

can an employer make you stay late without notice? Yes, an employer can make you stay late or work overtime without notice. Both federal and state laws allow employers to require this of their employees with one exception.

Although often inconvenient, your employer is within their rights to require that you stay late or work overtime without notice. Employees that have already met their hourly commitment for the day or week must be paid a minimum of 1.5 times their normal hourly rate. Employers are not required to pay time and a half to part-time employees working less than an eight-hour day or 40-hour work week.

The exception to this rule is those employees with an employment contract or bargaining agreement that covers involuntary overtime.