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Avoiding a Wage-and-Hour Lawsuit When the Clocks Change

How to Pay Non-Exempt, Hourly Employees during the Daylight Savings Transition

Posted by Jared Jacobson on March 28th, 2014

On Sunday, March 10, 2014 at 2AM, we set our clocks ahead one hour, thus the phrase “Spring Ahead”.  So how do the labor and employment laws handle this unique situation and what do employers need to know?

It may seem intuitive, even simple, but just in case, here it is:  In short, on Sunday, March 10th, assuming a typical eight hour shift which includes the hours between 2AM and 3AM, an employee will not actually work an/the hour between those times because at 2AM all of the clocks are turned forward to 3AM.  Therefore, on this day, during this shift, the employee worked only seven hours of their regularly scheduled eight hour shift.

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So what does the law require of employers? We will stick with the federal law here, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which likely governs the situation described above.  The FLSA requires that employees must be credited with all hours actually worked. Therefore, in the example above, s/he is entitled to be paid for at least seven hours of work, but no more than seven hours.

As you might imagine, in November, when we “Fall Back” in time, we have the opposite situation…in an eight hour shift, an employee may physically work nine hours.  Therefore, that employee is entitled to be paid for that additional hour of work, which may place an employee into an overtime category, depending on how many hours s/he worked in addition to that extra hour during that week.  States may have even more employee-friendly laws on the books.

Although there are many employers who may not find themselves dealing with these Daylight Savings transitions, there are plenty of employers out there who have tons of non-exempt, aka hourly workers, and need to be aware of how the transition may affect their payroll on a large scale.  An oversight may lead to an unintended bonus for workers in March, which is great if that is your goal, or a wage and hour law suit following the next transition in November.

Jared Jacoboson
Jared Jacoboson

Attorney and founder of The Law Firm of Jacobson & Rooks, LLC

Jared Jacobson is one of the founding members of The Law Firm of Jacobson & Rooks, LLC. Jared Jacobson represents individual employees and executives as well as counsels employers in conducting workplace investigations to mitigate risks of employment and whistleblower litigation. Jared regularly performs human resource audits to ensure compliance with state (PA, NJ and NY) and federal discrimination, misclassification and wage and hour laws, as well as the risks associated with whistleblowers. Jared helps his clients understand the importance of investing in pre-emptive annual policy audits and work-place training as well as performing a proper investigation when a complaint is filed or threatened which can be invaluable when compared with the alternative.

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