Can an Employer Make You Wait to Clock In?

Sometimes, employers use shady tactics to limit how much they pay their employees, especially when it comes to hourly workers. Examples of these tactics include limiting shift lengths and preventing overtime in their employee’s schedules.

Not all of these tactics are illegal, but some certainly are. If you’re unsure about whether or not your employer acted unlawfully, we recommend contacting an experienced New Jersey employment law attorney.

Can an Employer Make You Wait to Clock In?

At Schall & Barasch, we represent clients in a wide range of cases, including:

Our attorneys pay very close attention to the Fair Labor Standards Act. We also work closely with our clients to ensure that they are treated fairly at the workplace. We tend to limit our practice to cases against employers rather than employees.

So, we understand what it takes to win cases on behalf of the everyday New Jersey citizen. With the help of a dedicated labor and employment law attorney, we work hard to put you in the best position for a favorable outcome.

If you or someone you know needs a knowledgeable employment law attorney, call Schall & Barasch today at (856) 242-8491 to schedule your consultation.

Can My Employer Refuse to Pay Me if I Forget to Clock In or Clock Out?

Let’s say you had a stressful morning with car trouble, traffic, or some other happenstance that keeps your mind far away from clocking in once you get to work. You arrive on time somehow and get straight to work.

Once you realize you forgot to clock in, you begin to wonder if your employer will refuse to pay you. First of all, don’t panic. This was just an accident, and in this scenario, the law is on your side. According to the FLSA, employers must pay their employees for all time worked, regardless of what the time clock says.

Additionally, employers are not allowed to reduce or dock your pay as a result of:

  • Forgetting to clock in
  • Clocking in late
  • Or forgetting to clock out

So long as you start your work on time, you must receive pay for all hours worked. Once you realize that you forgot, clock in, and then immediately let the manager know about the incident. This way, you can avoid pay discrepancies before they even happen. 

What Is the 7-Minute Rule for Timekeeping?

The “7-minute rule” in timekeeping basically allows employers to round worked or unworked time to the nearest 15-minute increment. Paying in terms of 15-minute increments is much easier than paying per minute, so many employers use this system.

For example, if you clock in at 8:03 in the morning, your paycheck acts as if you clocked in at 8:00 in the morning. However, if you clock in at 8:08 in the morning, which is over 7 minutes late, your paycheck acts as if you clocked in at 8:15 in the morning.

While this timekeeping system makes payments a bit easier for employers, it can be very frustrating for the employees. However, bear in mind that certain federal laws provide protections for employees in these situations.

For example, rounding time up or down must not result in failing to fairly pay employees overtime. If you feel that your employer is punishing you overtime for clocking in a few minutes late, you need an experienced employment law attorney.

Is It Legal for an Employer to Adjust Your Hours?

Technically, yes. Employers, under the FLSA, have a responsibility to keep track of the time records of their employees, in whichever fashion they choose. However, if they find that they must alter or adjust the timesheets of their employees, the records must accurately reflect the actual time worked by the employee. Certain situations exist in which it is permissible to alter an employee’s time record.

For example, an employee had a busy morning and forgot to clock in, but actually started their work on time. Employers must alter the time record to show that the employee started their work on time so that they are paid fairly. Also, maybe an employee called in sick.

Employers are allowed to alter the time record to reflect a paid sick day. An important way to avoid time record discrepancies is to have both the employee and employer sign or initial the changes to the record. Having this agreement on file is important in case a lawsuit arises.

Can an Employer Make You Wait to Clock In?

This is where it gets a little tricky. Depending on whether you are actually working, your employer may or may not have you wait to clock in. For example, say that your job requires you to wear a uniform. You get to work on time, then proceed to change into your uniform.

Because changing clothes is not considered integral to your work duties, your employer is allowed to have you wait until you actually start working to clock in. However, if you actually perform your work duties, you must receive compensation for that time worked.

Additionally, employers may require their employees to clock out at a certain time. However, it is not legal for employers to require employees to perform work before they clock in or after clocking out. This is because your paid wages do not cover time worked before or after clocking out. Basically, this is a form of wage theft.

Can You Get Fired for Refusing to Work Overtime?

The short answer is, technically, yes. New Jersey is an at-will employment state. That means that employers may fire employees for many different reasons. However, those reasons cannot be retaliatory or discriminatory.

In most cases, employers are within their rights to fire someone if they refuse to work overtime. However, certain exceptions exist. For example, if an employee’s contract limits the number of overtime hours they are required to work, an employer may not fire them for refusing to work more than that amount of time.

Contact a New Jersey Employment Law Attorney

If your employer practices questionable timekeeping methods and you feel you may have been shorted in your paycheck, you need the New Jersey employment law attorneys of Schall & Barasch. We refuse to allow employers to get away with shorting their employees. Every employee deserves fair compensation, and we’re here to fight for it.

To request a free consultation with a dedicated labor and employment law attorney, please call our office at (856) 242-8491 today. You can also visit us online to fill out our online intake form.