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Springing Ahead (or Falling Back): The Correct Method to Pay Employees
Springing Ahead (or Falling Back): The Correct Method to Pay Employees

I was sitting by my window the other day and noticed how the sun was melting the snow around my house even though the air temperature was cold. For a person living in a northern climate, I see this as a sign of Spring and with it, the return to green grass, flowers, and warmer temps. It also reminds me that the semi-annual ritual of the changing of the clocks for those states that participate in Daylight Savings Time is upon us. Each Spring, we “Spring Ahead” by moving the clocks forward one hour at 2:00 a.m. on a designated date. Each Fall, when Daylight Savings Time ends, we “Fall Backward” by changing the clocks back one hour. This year Daylight Savings Time will start on March 13, 2022.

This semi-annual ritual of changing the clocks is often a concern for those employers who have non-exempt (hourly) employees working the late shift (at 2:00 a.m. when the clocks change). When the clocks are moved back those employees usually work an additional hour for the shift. When the clocks are moved ahead those employees usually work one less hour for the shift. 

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) employers must pay employees for all hours worked and overtime for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. So how do these basic rules apply during the changes related to Daylight Savings Time? Here is a summary:

Spring Forward:  Employees usually work one less hour per shift. Employers may choose to pay the employee for the normal number of hours worked for the shift; however, employers are not required to pay employees for the hour that was not worked. If the employer does choose to pay the employee for this hour, the employer does not have to include the extra hour in the employee’s regular rate of pay for calculating overtime. The employer may not, however, use the extra hour of pay as a credit to overtime compensation that is owed the employee.

Fall Backward:  Employees usually work one more hour per shift. Employers must pay the employee for the total number of hours actually worked. So, if the shift is normally eight hours, the employee must be paid for nine hours. The extra hour of pay must also be included in the employee’s regular rate of pay for calculating overtime.

As you look forward to the warm days of Spring, you may want to add a review of your pay policies during the changes in Daylight Savings Time to your Spring to-do list.

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