Fresno, California – Keeping time records for non-exempt employees is now more vital than ever. A recent California Supreme Court ruling decided that a standard that forgave employers in California for not compensating non-exempt employees for small, even trivial amounts of off-the-clock time will no longer be applicable.
We’re on top of these types of rulings, at Datatech, so that we can inform you about the latest issues facing payroll, especially agribusiness.
As members of the Agricultural Personnel Management Association, a recent article was published by the law firm of Barsamian & Moody stating that it’s now critical that employers in California must have a way to account for what’s known as “maxim de minimis non curat lex” time, essentially meaning not being concerned with insignificant things, in this case, minutes of ‘off-the-clock’ time such as shutting off the light and locking the door behind you on the way out.
So what’s the big deal?
A class action lawsuit was brought against Starbucks for this “de minimis” time on behalf of all employees from 2008 to 2010 who had to close up shop at the end of the day. The ruling from the court came down on July 26, 2018. Barsamian & Moody says, “For nearly seventy years, courts have applied this doctrine to excuse the payment of wages for small amounts of otherwise compensable time upon a showing that the bits of time were administratively difficult to record. However, the California Supreme Court found that employers should no longer be excused from having to record all amounts of employees’ work time because technological advances have made it easier to track time.”
So what do employers need to be concerned with?
Tracking all time for their non-exempt employees says Barsamian & Moody, “This rule will require California employers to find ways to track all of their non-exempt employees’ time regardless of how insignificant the amount of time is and regardless of how difficult it might be to record it. Moving forward, employers must ensure that they have systems in place to accurately record and compensate all of the time that employees spend working. The surest route to compliance with the new rule will be adopting workplace policies and procedures that ensure that all work time is recorded. Employers should note that this might require adopting new technology, re-training management staff, and amending employee handbooks. A less certain alternative will be to estimate the amount of time that is required to perform the tasks that would otherwise be performed off the clock, and pay employees for that time. This decision also calls into question the common practice of “rounding” time to the nearest quarter hour.”
Law experts say this new ruling should not be overlooked since it opens employers’ exposure to class action lawsuits. Says, Barsamian & Moody, “Employers will no longer be able to quickly dispose of petty wage and hour claims alleging small amounts of unpaid time and hanging on the “de minimis time” standard. As a result, even one uncompensated minute of time could cost your company thousands of dollars in penalties.”
We’re not lawyers at Datatech, we provide accounting software for agribusiness particularly for growers, farm labor contractors and fresh produce shippers and brokers, so if you have questions about compliance you can contact your legal expert or Barsamian & Moody.
At Datatech, we’re members of important Ag associations such as the Agricultural Personnel Management Association, Western Growers, and the Calfornia Farm Labor Contractor’s Association. As members, we’re in tune with employer requirements as they pertain to compliance issues.