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Pitfalls of Improper Timesheet Rounding

  • 3 mins
Part 3 of 4 in a limited series of articles about Timesheet Rounding

In the intricate world of timesheet rounding, there's a hidden web of consequences that employers and employees must navigate. In this article, we'll delve into the repercussions of improper timesheet rounding and explore why employers resort to this practice, occasionally leading to unexpected challenges.

Consequences of Timesheet Rounding

As we've discussed, timesheet rounding, when done correctly and within the legal guidelines, serves a purpose – simplifying payroll calculations and accounting for brief transitional moments when work begins. However, when improperly executed, it can expose employers to several pitfalls:

1. Off-the-Clock Work

One of the potential consequences of improper timesheet rounding is the risk of off-the-clock work. Some employers may round down employee time but allow them to continue working during that time. This practice is a significant violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which mandates paying employees for every minute worked, no matter how brief.

Consider Emily's case, the precise worker who always starts at 8:57 AM. Her employer rounds her time up to 9:00 AM. If Emily ends up working before 9:00 AM, her employer must ensure she gets paid for that time worked.

2. Inaccurate Employee Records

Another challenge stemming from improper timesheet rounding is inaccurate employee records. Employers who round timesheets must do so consistently and fairly. If they round one employee's timesheet differently from another's, it can lead to discrepancies and potential wage and hour lawsuits under FLSA regulations.

Jack, the advocate of rounded fives, might encounter problems if his employer isn't consistent in rounding everyone's time in the same way. Fairness and consistency are key.

3. The De Minimis Doctrine

Timesheet rounding gets even more complex when we consider the de minimis doctrine. According to the Department of Labor (DOL), as many as 15 minutes per day can be considered de minimis, or insignificant, and thus noncompensable. This means that employers aren't required to pay for very brief periods of work.

But here's where things get tricky. Some states, like California, are reevaluating this doctrine. In a recent case involving Troester v. Starbucks Corporation, the California Supreme Court ruled that employees must be paid for every minute worked, no matter how "insignificant" it may seem. This could have broader implications for employers, not just in California but potentially in other states as well.

Why Employers Resort to Timesheet Rounding

Now, let's circle back to the question of why employers use timesheet rounding. As we've seen, some employers do it to simplify payroll calculations. Others use it to prevent early clock-ins, ensuring that employees start working at the right time.

But there's more to the story. Employers also face challenges when managing time tracking. For instance, 51% of employers only allow employees to clock in five minutes early or fewer. This is a way to ensure that employees don't work off the clock, which could lead to wage and hour violations.

Leading into the Next Article

As we've explored the consequences of improper timesheet rounding and the motivations behind employers' choices, it's essential to recognize that timesheet rounding isn't a one-size-fits-all practice. The impact varies depending on how it's implemented and whether it aligns with legal requirements.

In our next article, we'll shift our focus to understand how employers themselves feel about timesheet rounding. Their perspectives and insights will shed further light on this intricate aspect of workforce management, leading us to a well-rounded understanding of the subject.

Stay tuned to uncover the diverse perspectives and considerations surrounding timesheet rounding from the employer's point of view.