Human Resources questions answered: Rounding employee time to quarter hours; How can employer avoid overtime?

Human Resource experts answer questions from dentist employers so they don't inadvertently find themselves in any legal trouble.

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2014 11 Human Resources

QUESTION: Our office would like to implement a new practice of rounding employee’s time to the nearest quarter hour when they clock in early and/or late. Is this legal?

ANSWER: Yes, provided that rounding does not result, over a period of time, in a failure to compensate your nonexempt employees properly for all the time they’ve actually worked. Rounding cannot always benefit the employer either. For example, if you round to 9 a.m. when an employee reports to work within seven minutes of his or her start time, then you must round to 8:45 a.m. when the employee reports to work within eight to 14 minutes of his or her start time. Furthermore, this process must be implemented with all of your staff; do not target only one employee. State regulations may vary, so check with your local Department of Labor to ensure compliance.

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2014 11 Human Resources

QUESTION: I understand that I cannot provide time off in lieu of paying employees for overtime hours worked. Can I change their schedule (i.e., give them time off) during the week to avoid them working overtime, or am I stuck with the predetermined schedule?

ANSWER: You are not required to stick with the schedule; you may make adjustments as business needs change unless there is a contract in place that supersedes your at-will prerogatives. You do have to be sure to rearrange the hours to avoid overtime within the same workweek. You have to define a workweek for your employees, which is any seven consecutive 24-hour periods. If you have not done so, then it defaults to the standard calendar week. In such a case, hours must be rearranged between Sunday and Saturday to avoid overtime. If an employee works more than 40 hours by Saturday, time off on Sunday will not eliminate the requirement to pay for overtime because Sunday starts a new week. State regulations may vary, so check with your state Department of Labor to ensure compliance.

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Human Resources Tips for Dental Practices is provided by Tim Twigg and Rebecca Boartfield of Bent Ericksen & Associates. Tim Twigg is president and Rebecca Boartfield is a human resource compliance consultant with Bent Ericksen & Associates. For 30 years, the company has been a leading authority in human resource and personnel issues, helping dentists deal successfully with the ever-changing and complex labor laws. To receive a complimentary copy of the company’s quarterly newsletter or to learn more about its services, call (800) 679-2760 or visit

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