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Employment Law/time clock issues


Our employer recently started requiring the hourly employees to use a time clock. We can not get any print out of our clocked hours and are therefore keeping track of them ourselves. It has come to our attention that we are not being paid by the hours we clock, but by a pre-printed schedule. So, as an example if you are on the schedule to work 8:30 to 5 but are unable to leave work and clock out until 5:35 you are not being paid an extra half hour. We are wondering why we are clocking in and out if not to be paid by the time we clock. Also, my hours have been cut from a full 40 hrs. a week to only on average about 24 hrs. a week. There were many weeks when I was at a full 40 hrs. that I went over and was never paid overtime. Can you please help?


Both the federal and Illinois state wage payment law requires an employer to accurately track and pay employees for all hours they actually work, and that nonexempt (hourly workers are nonexempt) employees be paid overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek.  This is, of course, the prime reason employers use time clocks.  However, in your case, it would appear that your employer is not paying for all hours actually worked - only those hours for which you are scheduled. In most cases, employers do this to eliminate time for which they must pay at the time and a half overtime rate.  It is a form of wage theft and is unlawful under both IL and federal overtime wage laws.

The right to receive overtime pay may not be signed away or waived by an employee.  

The law does allow "rounding" of an employee's starting and stopping times, and the Department of Labor has approved the practice of recording employee starting time and stopping time to the nearest 5 minutes, or to the nearest one-tenth (6 minutes) or quarter of an hour (15 minutes). What your employer is doing appears to go beyond rounding and always ends up benefiting the employer since time is simply being cut.  

Generally, employers are free to schedule employees how they choose unless they are violating an employment contract or engaging in unlawful discrimination (race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information). The federal and IL wage and hour laws do not prohibit employers from adjusting work schedules within a workweek to avoid paying overtime, but any "adjustments" must, of course be made to the schedule before work is performed - not after the fact as your employer appears to be doing.  For more information regarding this, please see the following information from the U.S. Department of Laborís website:

For further information and guidance, I would suggest that you contact an employment lawyer that specifically handles wage and hour / overtime claims and/or the Illinois Department of Labor at (312) 793-2808 or online at

I hope you find this information helpful.

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Michael Lore


I will take questions regarding employment law, with a focus on wage and hour issues involving overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and applicable state laws (eg. California).


I am an attorney with 15+ years experience in the area of labor and employment law, with a practice that concentrates heavily in the area of wage and hour litigation - involving unpaid overtime wages, commissions, work related expenses and vacation pay.

American Bar Association, American Association for Justice, National Employment Lawyers Association

BBA in Finance, J.D.

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