Timekeeping

Managers must comply with the university Wage and Hour policy, as well as the guidelines on this page. It is imperative that managers carefully adhere to all regulations involving non-exempt employees.

Most student workers are non-exempt employees as well. Student workers are enrolled at USC and claim student status. They are limited to part-time employment of 20 hours or less per week when school is in session. They are also subject to laws governing overtime, and meal and rest periods.

USC uses several sanctioned timekeeping systems that are programmed to meet university timekeeping requirements and calculations and integrated with USC’s payroll system. You must use the system assigned for your department. Current systems include Workday (for most employees), Kronos, MyPortal, and BOSS. These systems help us accurately calculate and fairly administer the university’s generous policies on vacation and sick time, as well as the various leaves available to staff.

Clocking time for non-exempt employees

Regardless of system used, managers must ensure that their employees are accurately clocking time. This means workers are using their assigned timekeeping system to punch in and out in real time. Managers should question any timesheet that comes to them with the same exact times punched every day (e.g., exactly 8:30am every morning, exactly 12:00pm clocking out for lunch, etc.) – that is a sign that the employee may be pre-populating the timesheet independent of real time worked. Make sure employees know that even if their timekeeping system allows them to do this, it is prohibited, and timesheets not reflecting real-time punching in and out are not allowed.

Along with watching for pre-populated timesheets, managers should also review time records for missing information, timely meal periods, and correct allocation of hours to funding accounts. The time record must be approved by both the employee and the manager and submitted on time for each biweekly pay period.

Managers who believe a submitted timesheet is not accurate may reject or modify it, and must discuss any modification or resulting difference in pay with the employee. If the employee and manager cannot agree on the modification, they should contact the department’s HR Partner, HR Payroll Analyst, or the HR Service Center for information about how to settle such disputes. The employee’s version of the time record will generally be accepted and paid but any potential inaccuracy or falsification could subject the employee to disciplinary action.

Managers must also address timekeeping discrepancies (and discipline employees where appropriate). Discrepancies include failure to report to work, failure to call in to report absence, and falsification of timekeeping records.

Note also that managers themselves are subject to discipline regarding attendance, timekeeping and leave. Violations that may result in discipline include, but are not limited to:

  • failure to approve time resulting in late pay;
  • failure to pay overtime;
  • falsification of timekeeping records;
  • unauthorized or unapproved absences;
  • unauthorized approval of overtime;
  • failure to allow proper rest and meal periods; and
  • failure to monitor all timekeeping issues.

All worked time must be paid

Managers must ensure their employees are clocking all worked time. Working “off the clock” is strictly prohibited. The university pays for all hours worked. This means that managers should prohibit employees from working either before they clock in or after they clock out. USC believes employees are happier and more productive when their off-time is not violated, and the university holds managers responsible for ensuring that employees feel no pressure to work any unpaid time for any reason, including:

  • “Just finishing up” at the end of the day
  • “Volunteering” to work on something
  • Working unpaid time due to budget concerns
  • Working unpaid time due to employee feeling s/he “should have” finished earlier
  • Responding to work emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. during off hours
  • “Donning and doffing” (putting on/taking off uniforms, equipment, gear necessary to perform job duties – applies to specialized employees)

All such time must be recorded and will be paid as time worked.

If your employee exhibits a pattern of needing/wanting to work extra hours, discuss their workload with them and your local HR representative.

Managers may not ask employees to “adjust” their time entries unless there is a legitimate mistake in the time record that must be corrected. The university’s timekeeping systems will record who made changes to a time record.

In those rare cases when a non-exempt employee is needed to put in hours outside of regular working hours, managers should discuss this need with the employee in detail beforehand, setting clear expectations as to time involved and duties required during that time. Examples of this might include non-exempt employees who are responsible for monitoring and/or responding to social media over a weekend, or non-exempt employees who are responsible for responding to information requests in the evening hours. Note that employee job descriptions should clearly outline expectations for employees with duties that may involve off-hour work, and all such time must be clocked and paid.

Other than employees with duties as outlined in the previous paragraph, managers must make clear to non-exempt employees that even if they receive work emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. during off hours, they are not required to respond until their next scheduled work shift. Managers must ensure that employees understand the university discourages them from even checking work email, etc. during their off hours. But if employees do perform such work, it should be recorded and will be paid. If you correspond with an employee during these hours, make a note to check that the time was properly recorded as time worked.

Clocking time when traveling on business

For university business-related travel (business meetings, conferences, student recruiting activities, athletic or fundraising events, etc.), ensure your non-exempt employees understand they should clock all time from when they leave home until they return home, with the following exceptions:

  • Sleeping
  • Eating (not business-related meals or meals consumed during travel)
  • Recreation or personal pursuits (not business-related)

Meal and rest periods

Managers must ensure they fully understand meal and rest period requirements as set forth in the university Wage and Hour policy. If for any reason a non-exempt employee fails to take a meal or rest period as required by law, break penalties may apply. Breaks taken throughout the day can help alleviate burnout and boost both productivity and wellbeing, so employees should be encouraged to enjoy a break away from their desks/duties as per policy.

Note that if non-exempt employees are required to attend a business lunch meeting, they must still be given the option of a half-hour uninterrupted, off-duty unpaid meal period consistent with the university Wage and Hour policy; otherwise, a meal break penalty will apply.

Managers should be mindful of asking employees to complete “urgent” or “emergency” work around the time an employee might be entitled to a meal or rest period; be sure employees understand they can come back to the task after their break, unless it is a true emergency, in which case a break penalty may apply.

Overtime

Managers must ensure their employees are paid promptly for any additional time worked, in the appropriate pay period, at the appropriate pay rates, when business requirements so dictate. Overtime worked must be paid, regardless of whether the manager was aware of or approved it in advance. Managers may require employees to work overtime but should be sensitive to an employee’s personal conflicts or restrictions.