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Wage Claims Issues: Documentation

Wage Claims lawsuits are more prevalent now than at any other time in American history. This continuing series aims to inform the public about wage issues and how to address them.

DOCUMENTATION

Employers who carefully record their employee's hours worked do not simply increase efficiency- they avoid lawsuits. 

Employers risk potential lawsuits when they allow incomplete timesheets and poor time recording policies. Let's discuss two examples of common documentation mistakes employers make: errors in creating paystubs and errors in recording meal breaks.

Paystubs

Employers should do their best to create detailed paystubs for their employees. A standard paystub should include the hours an employee works, the employee's rate of pay, and identify any overtime hours an employee works, as well as describing any State and Federal withholding deductions.

Under California Labor Code Section 226, violators can be held liable for a penalties for failing to include the above details.

Meal Breaks

Meal breaks are required for most California jobs; employees are typically entitled to a 30-minute break if they work over 5 hours. During the meal break, employees need to be allowed to leave the work premises. (Labor Code 512)

Ideally, the beginning and ending of meal breaks should be documented on an employee's timesheet regardless of the activities the employee conducts during the break. In these situations, it is prudent to have the employees should sign their time sheet (or time card) to verify they have taken all meal and rest breaks.

NOTE: An employee working a shift less than 6 hours may choose not to take their unpaid meal break, but only if the employee has a Meal Break Waiver on file.

In Conclusion:

Employers - provide your employees with a detailed paystub or hire a payroll service to perform that task. The easiest and most efficient way for employers to track an employees' work? Timesheets or timecards. Employers should require employees to fill out a timesheet each pay period reflecting hours worked and breaks taken. Employees should sign time sheets at the close of each pay period and these records should be kept.

Michael Freeland

Michael Freeland's Wage Claims Issues series will continue with 'Commission Employees'

Contact Freeland Law APC for a free 30-minute consultation with Michael Freeland, experienced employment lawyer serving La Mesa, California.

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