Employers often try to limit payroll costs by limiting shift lengths and preventing overtime in employee schedules. Some of these means are legal. Others are not.
Time in, Time Out
Many employers make their employees wait to clock in until their assigned shifts begin. Employees may wonder if existing employment laws allow this. The key issue in such a case is whether the employee is actually working during the time that is not represented on timekeeping records. There is a gray area in that some activities, such as changing clothes, are not considered integral and indispensable to an employee's principal activities, and therefore the employee will not be compensated for such time. It is clear, however, that when employees are performing their job duties, their employers must compensate them for all of their time spent in performing their work.
This raises another question. If an employer has scheduled you for an assigned shift, can your employer require you to wait to clock in for that shift? Again, the focus is on whether the employee is actually working during that time. If the employee is not working and must wait until the beginning of the assigned shift to begin working, there is no violation in restricting the time at which the employee clocks in. The same is true if the employer requires the employee to clock out and stop working at a specific time. If, however, the employer expects the employee to perform work before clocking in, or after clocking out at the end of a shift, the wages paid will not cover all hours worked. This is a form of wage theft.
Employees Have the Legal Right to Pursue Wage and Hour Claims
If you are performing work for which you are not paid, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the employer to protect your legal rights. Both state and federal employment laws protect the rights of workers. An experienced New York wage and hour attorney can help you determine whether you have received all of the wages to which you are entitled. Employment law attorney Adam Braverman of Braverman Law PC has substantial experience protecting the rights of workers in the New York City area, so please call (212) 206-8166 today to schedule a free consultation with him.