BRINKER CLOCKING IN ON EMPLOYEE TIMEKEEPING « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Dos and Don’ts for California Employers

The California Supreme Court’s recent Brinker decision (April 12, 2012) includes important clarifications on employee meal breaks as well as rest periods.   To ensure compliance, employers must maintain accurate timekeeping systems for employee working hours.

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and similar California law, employers are required to keep accurate records of hours worked to “nonexempt” employees (those not exempt from overtime pay).  Common and acceptable methods of recordkeeping include handwritten time cards, punching time clocks, and use of electronic badge readers or hand scanners.

Some dos and don’ts:

  • Employers should adopt and distribute written policy establishing each employee’s responsibility for accurately recording the times he/she arrives at and leave work.
  • This timekeeping policy should also:
    • Include the procedure for foregoing meal periods, requiring an employee to sign an acknowledgement he/she is voluntarily choosing to work through a scheduled meal period;
    • Specify the employer can require any employee to take a meal break if not doing so could result in overtime;
    • Also name the consequences for failing to comply with the clock-in/out requirements, including out/in for off-duty meal periods and any other scheduling requirements; and
    • Also name the consequences for falsifying time cards or clocking in for another employee.
  • While employers are not required to keep records of the actual hours worked by exempt-from-overtime employees, businesses should have systems for recording all employee sick days, floating holidays, vacation time, jury duty, bereavement leave, and other absences.
  • Employers should regularly review their timekeeping procedures to ensure workers are actually following them.
  • While employers may implement a policy for workers to round off their recorded time to the nearest one-tenth, one-fifth or even one-quarter of an hour,  such businesses must regularly audit such time records to ensure that rounding practices fairly compensates employees over time.  If such rounding unfairly favors the employer, the company should revise or discontinue them.


To ensure your timekeeping policies are complete, contact a “management-side” employment attorney.

Related Articles:

Rude Awakenings: Sounding the Alarm on Off-The-Clock Work

How to Avoid Costly Penalties for Missed Meal Breaks