Accurate Timekeeping More Important Than Ever in California and Beyond
What is the morning routine in your office? Every office usually has an early bird, arriving first, making the coffee, turning on the lights. Employees trickle in and the day is off and running. As an owner and manager, timekeeping compliance may be the last thing on your mind during your office’s morning routine – especially before you’ve had that first sip of coffee.
Ask yourself: Does your early bird employee clock in before or after she turns all the lights on? Does she check the office voicemail while waiting for her laptop to boot up? Does she make the coffee before logging into your timekeeping software? Does it matter?
The short answer is, yes! It does matter. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to track all time worked by non-exempt employees. But the courts have long recognized that, from a practical standpoint, there are some small periods of time that cannot be captured in timekeeping records. This is known as the de minimis rule.
For example, the amount of time it takes an employee to walk from the front door to their computer station to clock in may be considered de minimis, and would not be required to be captured. The de minimis rule also recognizes that the use of rounding in time-clocking systems is generally acceptable as long as the rounding does not result in a consistent loss of time to the employee (i.e., as long as you are not always rounding down).
Generally, courts look at three factors when determining if something is de minimis or not: (1) the administrative difficulty of recording the time; (2) the aggregate amount of time not recorded; and (3) how often unrecorded time is performed.
CEDR’s guidance has historically been to treat the de minimis rule as the exception and not to rely on it as the rule for any significant work activities. Recently, the California Supreme Court underscored the importance of accurate timekeeping by adopting a more employee-friendly test than the federal factors outlined above.
In Troester v. Starbucks Corp., an employee alleged that Starbucks failed to pay him for short periods of time spent closing the store – engaging in the business’s closing procedures, spending anywhere from 4 to 10 minutes completing activities such as running an end-of-day report, setting the store alarm, or locking the door. The Court held that this time was not de minimis. While the Court made very clear that small amounts of regularly occurring time are required to be paid in California, it did not adopt a clear rule for employers to follow going forward.
What the Court did make clear is that the bar for what time is administratively difficult to track has moved as technology has advanced. Gone are the days of the ear-shattering, ink-stained punch clocks. The Court stated that, “…technological advances may help with tracking small amounts of time. An employer may be able to customize and adapt available time tracking tools or develop new ones when no off-the-shelf product meets its needs.”
What this makes clear is that employers should choose their timekeeping system wisely.
TimeClockIt® Is CEDR’s Timekeeping Solution
TimeClockIt is our suggestion for accurately tracking employee time and minimizing the time you spend dealing with it. TimeClockIt is an easy-to-use timekeeping software that tracks employees’ time, PTO, sick leave, and holidays, allows for simple, quick, and auditable time card adjustments, and even includes a mobile clocking ability that can be turned on for selected employees. TimeClockIt is the recommended software for CEDR members, and is the timekeeping system trusted and used internally by CEDR.
Do you have multiple locations with floating employees? No problem! TimeClockIt can allow employees to select their location upon clock-in. Even better, it can automatically track the employee’s work location based on the IP address they clock from.
Having trouble tracking payments for employees paid on a daily rate, rather than at a traditional hourly wage? With TimeClockIt, you can easily track their hours – only paying for the necessary overtime – and still have the daily rate automatically appear on time cards.
Need to have employees clocked in before they can get the office computer booted up, or need them to be able to clock out after the computer has been turned off for the day? With TimeClockIt, you can pick and choose which employees have access to Mobile Punching, so that your early birds and late shift employees are always able to accurately track their time.
TimeClockIt is a diverse and robust system with straightforward design and nearly endless customization. It can track and record even the most complex of time-off accrual policies, set up unique rounding and shift rules, easily switch between differential and non-production pay rates, and much more.
One of the greatest benefits of TimeClockIt is that the setup, onboarding, and support is all handled by CEDR – meaning you’ll have access to the personal and friendly assistance of our Member Services team. Our goal is to give you tools that will provide both protection for your practice and confidence in the success of your business.
So, what about your early-bird employee? Are you confident your systems capture all time spent working? Do you have the protections in place to avoid being in a position like Starbucks was in the Troester case?
If you’re interested in solving these problems through TimeClockIt, we’re here for you. It’s available whether or not you’re a CEDR member, and we’ve worked very hard to be able to offer you wholesale pricing. To find out more or get started, just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-414-6056.
 Troester v. Starbucks Corporation, Cal. No S234969 (July 6, 2018).