While they've been engaging in the practice for years, California employers finally have a published appellate decision allowing them to round off workers' time entries. According to See's Candy Shops, Inc. v. Superior Court, filed October 29, 2012, the practice is allowed as long as the net effect doesn't penalize employees.
Federal law permitted the practice under the Fair Labor Standards Act, but we've long known that complying with federal law isn't enough for California employers (white-collar exemptions being one glaring example).
See's used a Kronos timekeeping system that rounded employees' time to the nearest 6-minute (or tenth of an hour) increment. An employee sued saying the practice unlawfully deprived him (and the class members he intended to represent) of wages earned.
The trial court was receptive to plaintiff's argument, but the appellate court was not. According to the appellate court, as long as the "policy is neutral, both facially and as applied, the practice is proper."
The decision is a huge relief for employers that don't follow their workers around with a stopwatch to record every fraction of a second worked.