Question: Some of our employees punch in 30 minutes before their shifts are scheduled to begin, and by doing so, they’re racking up overtime. They’ve been told many times not to do this, but they don’t listen. Do we have to pay them for the time after they clock in but before their shifts begin?
Answer: It depends. The rule is that you don’t need to pay nonexempts if they’re not working, regardless of whether they’re clocked in. For example, employees who clock in 30 minutes early and eat breakfast don’t need to be paid for that time. But you must make sure they’re not working.
Caveat: Working time can be interpreted broadly to include the time employees spend getting supplies, powering up computers or going through email or voice mail.