I. INTRODUCTION– In practice, when an employer fails to pay an employee for all the time he/she works, it’s known as wage shaving. It’s a very simple concept; you do not get paid for all the time you work. There are three primary ways that an employer commits wage shaving. This article explains the three main ways employers shave wages and provides you with a system to make sure you are paid for all the time you work.
II. OVERVIEW– Wage shaving occurs over the course of the day. There are three time periods in the day when employers typically shave wages; (1) The beginning, (2) the middle, and (3) the end of the day:
(A) THE BEGINNING OF THE DAY:
Wage shaving occurs at the beginning of the day when your employer requires you to report to work at a certain time, but does not allow you to punch in your time card. By law, if your employer requires you to be somewhere, you must be paid for the time, even if you are standing around and waiting. Here is an example:
A construction employee has to report to the yard in the morning. The employer makes the employee load equipment onto a truck and drive out to a construction site. The Employer only begins counting hours when the employee gets to the construction site and does not pay the employee for the time at the yard or traveling to the construction site. This employer has violated the law because the employee was required to report to the yard and drive to the construction site, which are work hours.
(B) THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY (Lunch Time):
Employers tend to steal wages at lunch time by deducting time for a lunch or break period from an employee’s paycheck, even if the employee worked through lunch. There is a legal definition of lunch. It does not mean that you ate food, it means that you had a complete break from work (generally at least 30 minutes). If your employer requires that you eat while working, then your employer cannot deduct time or money from your paycheck for lunch.
For example, a waiter who is required to eat lunch between serving customers. Here, the employee will take a few bites of food and then check on a customer, then go back to take a few more bites of food. This is not a lunch break. If the employer does not pay the employee for this time, then they have violated the law.
(C) THE END OF THE DAY:
At the end of the day, employers steal wages the opposite of the way wages are stolen in the morning. The employer will require you to punch out from work or they will punch you out from work themselves, and then require you to continue working. If you are performing work, then you must be paid for your time.
An example of this is our construction worker from earlier. If the employee finishes work at the construction site and then drives back to the yard where the employer requires the employee to unload the truck, then the employer must pay the employee for the time driving back to the yard and unloading the truck. If you punch out from work, you better be free to leave right away. If not, then your employer is violating the law.
III. CONCLUSION– These are the three main ways wage shaving occurs. By thinking about wage shaving as occurring during certain times of the day, you can be your own watchdog. In the morning, make sure the first thing you do is punch into work. At lunch time, make sure you are taking a real lunch break and that your employer is not deducting wages from your paycheck for time you worked through lunch. At the end of the day, make sure that once you punch your time card out that you are free to leave.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but you are better off following these guidelines and double-checking to make sure you are paid correctly- if you have questions, then call us!
To learn more about your rights under the wage and overtime laws, disability law, or family & medical leave law, visit:
El-Hag & Associates, P.C 777 Westchester Ave, Suite 101, White Plains, New York, 10604.
http://220.127.116.11 • Jordan@Elhaglaw.com • (914) 218-6190 (office) • (914) 206 -4176 (fax)
** Disclaimer- This blog post is applicable to employees working in NY State. Some of the information is applicable outside of NY State, but you should check the laws of the state in which you work. Additionally, this information is not intended as legal advice. If you have legal questions CALL OUR OFFICE. We do not want you to take any action relying on this information without being fully informed. You need to make sure that your circumstances protect you under the law before you act.