All Eyes on California Supreme Court Decision on Rounding Time Punches
February 17, 2023
Does your workplace use electronic time clocks to record employee time punches? If so, then the ongoing saga in California of what is the correct method of compensating employees who electronically clock in for their shifts should be of interest.
Ten years ago, the California appellate decision in See’s Candy Shops, Inc. v. Superior Court determined that as long as the employer’s timekeeping method resulted in a facially neutral policy and practice, rounding employee time to the nearest quarter or even tenth of an hour is lawful. Thus, for example, a shift of 5 hours, 3 minutes rounded down to 5 hours and a shift of 5 hours, 8 minutes rounded up to 5.25 hours was an acceptable calculation so long as the aggregate rounding over a longer sample period produced a more beneficial result to the employees as a whole.
Enter the recent case of Camp v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., which prompted the California Court of Appeals to overturn the above practice sanctioned by See’s Candy after employees complained that the retail giant’s timekeeping system shorted them for time worked in violation of California labor law and policies. In finding for the workers, the Camp court reasoned that the rounding practices exercised by employers such as Home Depot conflicted with two more recent decisions of the California Supreme Court: one that made clear that California law requires employers to compensate employees for all time actually worked (Troester v. Starbucks) and another that held that rounding meal period punches contravened California law (Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC). Thus, employers with precise time punch systems for recording employee clocking in/out could no longer get away with the rounding method.
This month, the appellate court requested, and the California Supreme Court agreed to take a second look and issue a final determination on this common rounding practice – a reassessment that could take months. In the meantime, what should employers do while waiting for the final word to come down from the high court? The safe approach would be to pay employees down to the minute to avoid any uncertainty down the line.
If you have any questions on employee timekeeping records or any other pressing employment law issue, make sure to contact Rosasco Law Group APC and we can help.
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