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The sneaky way that some employers try to avoid paying workers fairly

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2024 | Employment Law |

Both federal fair pay standards and California state laws create financial obligations for employers. Companies must conform to fair pay laws that require minimum hourly wages for workers, overtime pay requirements for those with longer work weeks and other key employment statutes.

California specifically requires that businesses compensate employees for all time devoted to job responsibilities. Sometimes, companies try to find ways to work around those rules as a means of obtaining as much work from employees as possible while paying them as little as they can. One particular employer tactic sometimes leads to workers not receiving the wages that they should given how much time they spend devoted to job responsibilities.

Training employees to work off the clock

In some jurisdictions, employers can potentially justify having workers do occasional, low-intensity job work while not clocked in. They may do these tasks sporadically or every shift they work. The de minimus rule that applies to federal wage standards allows employers to not pay employees for very small amounts of time devoted to job responsibilities.

California does not embrace that standard but instead requires that employers pay workers for all of their time devoted to job tasks. In fact, even relatively minor recurring job responsibilities could constitute payroll violations if companies train workers to do those tasks before they start a shift or after they clock out at the end of each shift.

Cleaning, security walkthroughs and prep work are among the tasks that companies may try to trick workers into performing without appropriate compensation. Workers have brought successful lawsuits in California against even large companies that may use the same practices successfully in other states. If a company routinely demands that workers do part of their job without pay for those services, then the workers may have grounds to pursue a wage and hour claim against their employer.

Documenting time spent on tasks for which a company does not pay workers could help affected employees stand up for themselves and get the wages they deserve. Filing a wage and hour claim is something one employee can pursue on their own or potentially undertake with other co-workers affected by the same company practices.