Monday, March 14, 2016

Does Springing Forward Mean Losing Pay for Employees

For employers with a 24/7 workforce the question sometimes arises as to how to pay those employees that work the shifts where daylight savings time starts and ends. If employees work a typical 11:00p.m. to 7:00a.m. shift, but that shift is either cut short, as it was on this past weekend, by turning the clocks forward an hour at 2:00a.m., do you still have to pay them for the eight hour shift? After all, it wasn’t their fault that they did not work a full eight hours; there weren’t eight hours to work! Conversely, in the Fall, when the clocks are turned back an hour, are employees entitled to overtime for that extra hour that they work?

Of course, the answer is that it depends! The FLSA and State wage and hour laws only require that hourly (non-exempt) receive pay for the actual hours that they work. So employers do not have to pay their non-exempt workers assigned to the night shift for the hour that we all “lose” when the clocks turn forward. Conversely, those same employees are entitled to an extra hour of pay if they work the shift in the Fall when the clocks are turned back. An eight hour shift likely turns into nine hours of work that night. In many ways, it is similar to the question of whether employers are required to pay their non-exempt employees when the workplace is closed due to inclement weather or an emergency. 

Many unions who represent shift workers address this issue in collective bargaining, at least to the extent that their workers do not lose pay in the Spring. Always check your collective bargaining agreements for variances from your obligations under the law before making pay decisions.