Why it’s key to encourage proper timekeeping practices

Supervisors must make sure employees are following your timekeeping policies as they’re written.

Even if the policy you have on paper is compliant with the law, a regular pattern of the policy being ignored or discouraged can work against your company in any disputes.

One employer learned that the hard way in a recent wage and hour case.

Perception vs. reality

The Dept. of Labor (DOL) brought a lawsuit against Five Star Automatic Fire Protections LLC, claiming the employer failed to pay employees for pre- and post-shift work.

Employees were regularly asked to show up to their shifts 15 minutes early to perform work tasks. Foremen not only had to show up early, but they had to drive work trucks to and from job sites each day. None of this time was recorded or paid.

In its defense, Five Star claimed it had a policy on the books stating that employees must report any time they’ve worked to their supervisors.

However, several employees said they were discouraged by their supervisor, either directly or indirectly, from reporting any time they worked outside their scheduled shifts. They were operating under the assumption that they wouldn’t be paid for it.

Because of this, the court said the company actually had a de facto policy not to pay workers for this time, which negated its official policy.

U.S. Dept. of Labor v. Five Star Automatic Fire Protection LLC, No. 19-51119, CA5, 2/9/21.