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An Employer's Duty to Track Employee Time Grows

Keeping track of employee time to ensure wages are properly paid as required by law can be tricky. A new California Supreme Court ruling just made the requirement that much more taxing for employers of all types.

In a case brought against Starbucks, an employee alleged he was required to perform several job duties after clocking out of work for the day. These included jobs such as transmitting sales data and bringing in patio furniture. Over the course of 17 months, this added up to about $100 in additional wages owed to the employee.

The Court found that, despite the federal Fair Labor Standards Act allowing companies to avoid paying employees for duties that are trivial or hard to track, California businesses are required to pay their employees for the types of tasks alleged in the case. The Court appeared to believe that with the increase in technology it is easier now for employers to track these activities.

While the extra wages aren't likely to make or break a business, if the ruling holds up, (the case is on its way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) employers will be required to find ways to track these "trivial" duties and ensure their employees are compensated for the time.

As it stands, employers may still find their costs increasing if they have to find new ways to monitor these employee activities that may be quite difficult track. If employers fail to do so then they may find themselves facing the costs of litigation that no company wants.

As always, the landscape of what an employer has to keep on top of legally, while also managing their business, is ever-changing. The best way to stay on top of these relentless changes is to have an experienced employment lawyer on your side.

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