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Off-the-Clock Work: What Is It, & What are My Rights?

We Answer Your Questions About Employment Law

California wage and hour laws mandate that companies cannot require employees to work “off-the- clock” without monetary compensation. Working “off-the-clock” means that an employee does work for his or her employer, with the company’s knowledge, but without receiving any pay.

In 2018, the California Supreme Court ruled, in Troester v. Starbucks, that an employee who even works for a few minutes before or after clocking in, or being “on-the-clock,” should be compensated for that time. That being said, sometimes California employers or supervisors expressly require that an employee work “off-the-clock.”

In other situations, a California company may subtly ask, or merely encourage, their employees to work “off-the-clock.” A California employer may require “off-the-clock” work or create an environment that tolerates this practice to avoid paying overtime wages, as required by California state overtime laws.

Nonetheless, California law mandates all employers to pay employees for all work that occurs “off-the-clock.”

Common “Off-the-Clock” Work in California

California’s wage and hour laws defines work that is “off-the-clock” as work that an employee does without pay or compensation. Common examples of “off-the-clock” work include:

  • Pre-shift work, which can include time spent preparing a worksite, safety equipment, or a restaurant to open.
  • Post-shift work, such as equipment storage, delivering equipment to a new location, or cleaning up.
  • Administrative work, which may include completing medical charts or paperwork.
  • Correcting mistakes or redoing a project at the employer’s request.
  • Work performed by an employee during their meal or rest breaks.

“Off-the-clock” work may be work that would have been compensated by the company at the employee’s regular pay rate. However, most often, “off-the-clock” work is work completed by the employee that should be paid at one-and-a-half times or double the regular rate as overtime pay.

Does “Off-the-Clock” Work Need to Be Requested by A Manager?

Please keep in mind, however, that not all illegal “off-the-clock” work is specifically requested or demanded by a California employer. A majority of California employers are somewhat familiar with the state’s wage and hour laws and, as a result, find more subtle ways to get employees to work without compensation.

One example is when employers set up time clocks or sheets so that a worker cannot “clock-in” for pre-shift or post-shift work duties. Another is that a California employer may discourage its workers from reporting overtime. Moreover, a California employer may simply require more of the worker than can be reasonably done within their scheduled hours, resulting in the employee working beyond their shift without pay.

Even if you are a salaried employee, you may still have a “working off-the-clock” claim in California. This is because, under state law, every non-exempt worker in California has the right to overtime compensation when working more than eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek.

Although many salaried employees are exempt under the state’s white-collar exemption, some of these workers are not. This is because California’s legal definition of an exempt employee is not based upon whether or not the person is paid an hourly wage or a salary. Thus, if you are working more hours without additional compensation, you may have a California “off-the-clock” wage claim against your employer even if you are salaried.

Get Legal Help in California

Our experienced California employment lawyers at Haig B. Kazandjian Lawyers, APC can help you understand whether or not you have an “off-the-clock” claim against your employer, or any other work-related claim.

Contact usto schedule your initial case evaluation with a member of our team. Don’t hesitate, call (800) 576-4620 today.

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