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A Better Partnership


Aug 2008
August 13, 2008

I was Wondering - HR Focus

We want to pay employees for their scheduled hours and then manage overtime on a case-by-case basis. Are there any problems with this?

It depends. An employer cannot just give an employee a set schedule and then presume the employee worked those scheduled hours without any sort of verification. An employer can, however, have an “exception-based timekeeping procedure.” Under this procedure employees have a set schedule and are presumed to have worked that schedule unless the employee or the employee’s supervisor records exceptions to the schedule. The employer has the responsibility to make sure these records are accurate. While an exception-based timekeeping procedure is allowed, the employer should be aware that the Department of Labor becomes suspicious when it sees large numbers of employees who all seem to consistently work 8 - 8 - 8 - 8 - 8 - 40 every week.

A few employees punch in at 6:30 a.m. and sit in the break room until their shift starts at 6:45 a.m. Is it OK if we don't start paying them until 6:45 a.m.?

Yes, but the employer should put in safeguards to make sure this does not become a problem. An employer is only obligated to pay an employee for hours actually worked. Therefore, employees who sit in the break room for 15 minutes do not need to be paid for this time. What employers need to be aware of, however, is that the burden is on the employer to show that the employee did not actually work those hours. Since the time records will not prove that the employee did not start at the time punched in, an employer should have a policy which states that employees who punch in early or punch out late will be presumed to have done so for their own benefit and not to have worked that additional time. If an employee did work additional time, the employee can notify his or her supervisor to ensure that he or she is paid for those hours.

'I Was Wondering' gives readers an opportunity to ask questions of our HR attorneys. Not all questions will be answered publicly. To submit a question, please send it by e-mail to Sharon Sprague at

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