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.
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