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Punch Clock Tolerance

Expert: Marilyn Blackwood

Donna asked:

Is there an Employment Standards Act regulation that covers rounding time punched in and out on a time clock? The punch clock tolerance time is rounded to 1st in/last out with an accounting unit of 30 minutes. I have an employee that is constantly late for her shift's start. If her shift starts at 3:00 pm and she clocks in after 3:00 pm the punch clock calculates her start time to the next half-hour of 3:30 pm.

She stated that this is against the law. All employees are scheduled to start at hours or half hours in time, never at quarter hours.

Marilyn Blackwood answered:

I am aware of nothing in Employment Standards Act that governs this. I believe it is more of a company or management or union policy that states what the tolerance and rounding levels are. This would be explained at time of hire and hopefully documented in an employee handbook or agreement.

I will say however that half-hour rounding is excessive. In my experience 15 minutes seems to be the standard and often there is a late tolerance, anywhere from 3-7 minutes but again this depends on an organization's policy, nothing dictated by law. For example if a company has a 5-minute tolerance and an employee clocks in 4 minutes after the shift start they would get full credit. If they clock in 6 minutes after then they would be rounded to the next quarter hour.

About the author

Marilyn Blackwood is a consultant at Nine Mile Solutions, specialists in human resources and payroll systems.

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