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What about Time & Attendance in the USA?

6 min read
time & attendance usa

We have been talking about Labor Laws, specifically regarding Time & Attendance, in Europe. Now we want to travel across the Atlantic to see how these regulations go about in the US of A. Labor and employment legislation around hourly workers is a key area of focus for businesses with both small and large workforces. Staying compliant to all the federal, state, and city employment laws is also very challenging to manage, given the fact that most of these regulations might change from state to state. Let’s start learning how it works.

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What’s New in Employment Law?

Before going into how labor laws work in the US and to help you navigate the legal landscape around hourly workers, let’s highlight a few 2019 employment laws that may have affected your workforce. Many of the employment laws and ordinances that passed in 2018 are enforceable since January 1, 2019. Two key areas of 2019 employment laws that affect workforces are predictive scheduling and minimum wage increases.

Predictive Scheduling

One very interesting thing about time & attendance in the States is the fact that now it is enforced that employees are made aware of their schedules, by law, with an appropriate amount of time. This not a thing that exists in a lot of European countries. While predictive scheduling laws differ from place to place in the States, they follow a similar set of rules:

  • Employers must post the schedule in advance, usually between 7 to 14 days before the first scheduled shift.
  • Extra pay is given to employees if an employer changes the schedule after the posted schedule.
  • There must be an adequate rest period between shifts unless a worker volunteers to work during a rest period.
  • Employers must keep all records for a certain amount of time pertaining to the schedule.
labor laws in the USA

You may establish your business’ attendance policies in the manner you see fit, as the FLSA does not regulate attendance…

Okay, now what about Time & Attendance in the States?

Beyond the various federal labor laws that govern how U.S. employers must handle certain employee absences, many states and cities grant additional rights and protections to employees who miss work. The rules tend to be even more employee-friendly at the state and local levels, so it’s important that you be familiar with all of the employee attendance laws that affect your business. The status of the American workforce drastically depends on where in the States you live. Federal laws establish minimum baselines, but most of the day-to-day impact on your earnings, work-life, and well-being depend on which state you live in. The Fair Labor Standards Act is the chief labor law that governs most jobs in the United States. Within the FLSA are regulations governing minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping laws. With some exceptions, the FLSA gives employers free rein to determine time and attendance policies for their small business:

Work Hours

As of 2012, the FLSA requires that employers pay nonexempt employees — those who qualify for overtime — at least the minimum hourly wage of $7.25 for all hours worked. The act does not restrict the number of hours you can schedule employees age 16 and over to work in a day or week. This includes overtime hours, which are work hours that exceed 40 for the week.


You may establish your business’s attendance policies in the manner you see fit, as the FLSA does not regulate attendance. This includes implementing disciplinary measures for violation of the attendance policy. However, the FLSA may have policies that are linked in some way to attendance. For example, to ensure employees are properly paid for time worked, you must establish a timekeeping system that is accurate and complete. When calculating time cards, you may round employees’ time up and down to the nearest five minutes, to the closest one-tenth of an hour or quarter of an hour. Also, although hourly nonexempt employees are paid according to hours worked, salaried exempt employees are not. In the latter case, you may dock salary only under certain permissible conditions. Using employee attendance software helps streamline this process for your HR team.

Record Keeping

The FLSA requires that you keep specific records for nonexempt employees. The requirements tie into your employees’ time and attendance. Records include personal information, such as name and Social Security number; timekeeping data, such as the time and day the employee’s workweek starts and her work hours for each day and week; and payroll information, such as hourly pay rate, daily or weekly regular earnings and overtime wages for the week. To monitor all your employees’ time, you may require that hourly and salaried employees use a timekeeping system.


Before implementing time and attendance policies, contact or investigate with your state labor department, as the state may have related laws. For example, the state may have policies relating to overtime, record keeping, meal and rest periods, and termination notices. Know your state and local rules for managing employee attendance.

✔️Download your free time & attendance tracker for Excel

Reporting Time Pay laws are notoriously tricky for employers

State and local employee absence laws tend to be modeled after federal laws. Typically, they extend certain rights and protections beyond what the federal laws require. These laws require employers to pay nonexempt employees a minimum amount whenever they report to work as required or requested, even if no work is performed. While there is no federal requirement on this matter, at least eight states (and the District of Columbia) have issued provisions related to compensating employees for showing up to work. Here are the specifics of some of the biggest states Time & Attendance specifications:


Employee to be paid for half of the scheduled shift at the regular rate, but not less than two nor more than four hours. The time the employee worked can be included in this total. Reporting time pay for hours in excess of the actual hours worked is not counted as hours worked for purposes of determining overtime. For employees required to report to work a second time in any one workday and is furnished less than two hours of work on the second reporting, he or she must be paid for two hours at his or her regular rate of pay.


Referred to as ‘minimum daily earnings,’ provision only applies to four industries. For beauty shops, mercantile trades and laundry/cleaning/ dyeing operations: employee to be paid minimum earnings of four hours. For hotels and restaurants: two hours. Can be waived if the regularly scheduled shift is less than four hours.

District of Columbia

District of Columbia labor laws requires employers to pay employees 1½ times their regular rate for all hours worked in a workweek in excess of forty (40) hours. D.C. Code 32-1003. Some exceptions apply. Employees need to be paid at least four hours for each day on which the employee reports for work under general or specific instructions but is given no work or is given less than four hours of work.


Known as the “three-hour rule,” for scheduled shifts of three hours or more, the employee is to be paid at least three hours at no less than minimum wage. For any actual time worked, the employee must be paid his/her actual wage. This does not apply to non-profits.

New Hampshire

Employee to be paid for two hours at a regular rate of pay. Does not apply to employers of counties or municipalities.

time & attendance laws in the USA

Most regulations for Time & Attendance stay on the superficial level, while the state’s laws are the ones you should be paying attention to…

New Jersey

Employee to be paid for a minimum of one hour at a regular rate unless an employer has already made available to the employee the agreed upon a minimum number of hours of work.

New York

Referred to as “call-in pay,” employee shall be paid at least four hours, or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, whichever is less, at the basic minimum hourly wage. Since very recently, New York City Government Employees used CityTime to manage time & leave requests, manage the work week, overtime and all the other organizational requirements relating to payroll. It is quite efficient and it is integrally related to managing employee time as accurately as possible.


An employee, if under the age of 18, to be paid for half of the scheduled shift, or one hour at a regular rate (whichever is more). This is known as “show-up-pay” or “adequate work.”

Rhode Island

Referred to as “wages for failure to furnish shift work.” Employees to be paid a minimum of three hours at a regular rate, even if the scheduled shift is less than three hours.

The verdict with Time & Attendance in the USA…

At a federal level, most regulations for Time & Attendance stay on the superficial level of the law, while the state’s laws are the ones you should be paying attention to make sure you are compliant and under the law. When installing Time & Attendance systems in your business, it is important that you investigate the extent of the law in those specific cases. We’ll keep investigating for more information on Time & Attendance around the world!

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