Other Terms and Topics

The FLSA requires employers to keep records on wages, hours and other items, as specified in Department of Labor regulations. Most of the information is of the kind generally maintained by employers in ordinary business practice and in compliance with other laws and regulations.

Records To Be Kept By Employers

Posting:  Employers must display an official poster outlining the provisions of the Act, available at no cost from local offices of the Wage and Hour Division and toll-free, by calling 1-866-4USWage (1-866-487-9243). This poster is also available electronically for downloading and printing at http://www.dol.gov/osbp/sbrefa/poster/main.htm

What Records Are Required:  Every covered employer must keep certain records for each non-exempt worker. The Act requires no particular form for the records, but does require that the records include certain identifying information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned. The law requires this information to be accurate. The following is a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain:

    1. Employee's full name and social security number.
    2. Address, including zip code.
    3. Birth date, if younger than 19.
    4. Sex and occupation.
    5. Time and day of week when employee's workweek begins.
    6. Hours worked each day.
    7. Total hours worked each workweek.
    8. Basis on which employee's wages are paid (e.g., “$6 an hour”, “$220 a week”, “piecework”).
    9. Regular hourly pay rate.
    10. Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings.
    11. Total overtime earnings for the workweek.
    12. All additions to or deductions from the employee's wages.
    13. Total wages paid each pay period.
    14. Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

Employees on Fixed Schedules:  Many employees work on a fixed schedule from which they seldom vary. The employer may keep a record showing the exact schedule of daily and weekly hours and merely indicate that the worker did follow the schedule. When a worker is on a job for a longer or shorter period of time than the schedule shows, the employer must record the number of hours the worker actually worked, on an exception basis.

How Long Should Records Be Retained:  Each employer shall preserve for at least three years payroll records, collective bargaining agreements, sales and purchase records. Records on which wage computations are based should be retained for two years, i.e., time cards and piece work tickets, wage rate tables, work and time schedules, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. These records must be open for inspection by the Division's representatives, who may ask the employer to make extensions, computations, or transcriptions. The records may be kept at the place of employment or in a central records office.

Insignificant Periods of Time

In recording working time under the FLSA, infrequent and insignificant periods of time beyond the scheduled working hours, which cannot as a practical matter be precisely recorded for payroll purposes, may be disregarded. The courts have held that such periods of time are de minimis (insignificant). This rule applies only where there are uncertain and indefinite periods of time involved, a few seconds or minutes in duration, and where the failure to count such time is justified by industrial realities. As noted below, an employer may not arbitrarily fail to count any part, however small, of working time that can be practically ascertained.

For example, after clocking in you were assigned to another job. You transported your tools to the new job area and then informed the foreman that you were ill and went home without doing any additional work or clocking out. The time spent transporting the tools would be considered de minimis or insignificant because it was limited to this one time only.

Your employer must count as hours worked any part, however small, of your fixed or regular working time or identifiable periods of time you are regularly required to spend on duties assigned to you.

This policy is one that must be applied with common sense recognizing the practical realities of recording identifiable work time. Setting an artificial time limit is not sufficient. One must consider how frequently the activity is performed and whether the activity is actually part of the work the employee was hired to do.

Use of Time Clocks

Employers may use any timekeeping method they choose. For example, they may use a time clock, have a timekeeper keep track of employee's work hours, or tell their workers to write their own times on the records. Any timekeeping plan is acceptable as long as it is complete and accurate.

Time clocks are not required under the FLSA. In those cases where time clocks are used, if you voluntarily come in before your regular starting time or remain after quitting time, you do not have to be paid for such periods provided, of course, that you do not do any work during this time. Early or late punching of the clock is not hours worked when no work is done.

Likewise, minor differences between the clock records and actual hours worked cannot ordinarily be avoided since all employees cannot clock in or out at precisely the same time. Major discrepancies should be discouraged, however, since doubt is raised as to the accuracy of the record of actual hours worked.

In some industries, particularly where time clocks are used, there has been the practice for many years of recording the employee’s starting and stopping time to the nearest 5 minutes, or to the nearest one-tenth or quarter of an hour. Presumably, these arrangements average out so that the all of the time actually worked by the employee is properly counted and the employee is fully compensated for all the time actually worked. Such practices of recording working time are acceptable, provided they do not result, over a period of time, in failure to count as hours worked all the time the employees have actually worked.



Yezbak Law Offices • Nashville, Tennessee 37215 • 615-250-2000 • 866-255-3866