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Do we have to pay employees who clock in early?

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. We have a handful of employees who clock in early, (i.e., 5:00 p.m.) but don’t actually start working until their scheduled time (6:00 p.m.). Do we have to pay them when they do this? — Juelee, Wisconsin

A. Yes. Basically, the Fair Labor Standards Act (and similar state laws) require employers to pay employees for all time that they are “suffered or permitted to work.” Thus, if an employee clocks in early, he or she must be paid for time worked.

Rather than withhold pay, the better course of action is to warn employees not to clock in until the start of their scheduled shifts. Then, you can discipline them if they continue to do so. However, you can’t refuse to pay for time worked, not even if you are otherwise disciplining them for failing to follow your policies.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

pbrown May 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

Are they acutally working or just punched in waiting for their shift to start? If they are not suffered or permitted to work you shouldn’t have to pay them. If they are punching in early and start to work or are directed to do work then you would have to pay them.

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