What Do California’s New Time-Punch Rounding Policies Mean for You?

What you need to know about changes to California’s time-punch rounding policies and how it effects your cleaning or security business.

On February 25, 2021, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of ending commonly used time-punch rounding policies for employee meal breaks. If you’re running a California-based cleaning or security company, you employ a large, distributed workforce that is likely comprised mostly of hourly employees, and this ruling could affect how you track and round meal break time punches.

What is time-punch rounding?

In the past, employers may have used their timekeeping software to round minutes up in order to meet meal break requirements. If you scheduled a guard or cleaner for a 30-minute break but they punched out two minutes late and were only off the clock for 28 minutes, rounding that break up to 30 minutes is no longer legal and amounts to violations of labor codes meant to benefit the employee and ensure their wellbeing. While still allowed on a federal level, the practice is no longer considered lawful in the state of California.

Employers are required to follow stricter practices or face penalties.

Essentially, the California Supreme Court ruling means you’ll have to follow stricter time punch practices. The compliance updates mean that now, non-exempt employees must be given a 30-minute meal break that begins before the end of the fifth hour during their shift and must be given another 30-minute meal break before the end of the tenth hour during their shift. Employers are responsible for making sure employees do not waive their second meal break if they chose to waive their first. Additionally, employers must compensate employees for a “meal period premium” which equals one additional hour of regular rate pay for each workday that a meal break violation occurred.

Use your timekeeping software to ensure you’re staying compliant.

You can’t be everywhere to make sure your distributed workforce is taking compliant breaks. Your software solution should offer pay-to-the-minute functionality that truly pays your employees for every minute worked. Your software should also be able to help you determine which breaks employees are eligible for and notify them when to take them. Then, you can use your timekeeping software’s reporting and data to analyze your practices and determine if your scheduling habits are meeting the new requirements. For example, are your workers routinely punching out two minutes late? Are they missing breaks completely? Use your historical and ongoing insights to determine when and where violations happen, and which violations are happening most frequently, and adjust accordingly.

TEAM Software is dedicated to ensuring our software solutions meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. While we’re committed to keeping you informed, it’s important to do your own research and consult your own legal and tax advisors with specific questions or concerns. To learn more on meal and rest break laws and tracking employee breaks, continue reading our blog.