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Rounding employee hours

Amy Bourne |
Did you know that rounding your employees’ timesheets, or time records, is legal? Wait! Before you start rounding all of your employees’ timesheets down (analog or digital), finish reading. According to the Department of Labor, timesheet rounding is an acceptable practice as long as it’s within certain criteria. An employer’s timesheet rounding can never be construed as favoring the employer over the employee.

What Are the Timesheet Rounding Rules?

There are three options when rounding an employee’s time:
  • Rounding to the nearest 15-minute interval
  • Rounding to the nearest 1/10th of an hour (essentially, every 6 minutes)
  • Rounding to the nearest 5-minute interval
The most common option is to round to the nearest 15 minute interval, as paying for a quarter of an hour is often the easiest option for payroll systems. If you go this route, be aware that there are restrictions on when you can round up versus when you can round down (known as the 7 minute rule). Stay informed with the latest business news on FUEL. Under the 7-minute rule, you would:
  • Round down to the nearest quarter hour if an employee is within the first 7 minutes of the interval
  • Round up if to the nearest quarter hour if an employee is within the last 7 minutes of the interval
For example, if an employee punches in at 8:08, their time could be rounded to 8:15. If an employee punches in at 8:07, their time should be marked as 8:00. Here’s a quick reference table to help out:

Minutes After The Hour Minute Mark To Round To
0 – 7 :00 (of the current hour)
8 – 22 :15
23 – 37 :30
38 – 52 :45
53 – 59 :00 (of the next hour)

Can Rounding Time Save Me Money?

The Department of Labor allows for timesheet rounding “where there are uncertain and indefinite periods of time involved, a few seconds or minutes in duration, and where the failure to count such time is justified by industrial realities.” In plain speak, this means it’s meant to allow for some measure of inconsistency with time tracking methods. Find out how ExakTime will accurately track your employees' time. What’s important to note here is that, as in almostall cases, the FLSA will most often rule in favor of the employee—this rule is not meant to allow businesses to take paid time away from employees. Ultimately, employers shouldn’t turn to time record rounding simply to cut costs. If you’re saving significant amounts of money with this practice, you’re almost definitely doing it illegally – and therefore opening yourself up to FLSA lawsuits. Use one of these three different approaches to ensure you’re staying compliant with rounding rules:
  • Always round to the 5-, 6, or 15 minute increment (using the same increment each time)
  • Round both clock in and clock out times down to the nearest increment
  • Round all entries in favor of the employee (round down for clock ins and up for clock outs)
Want to do away with inconsistent time tracking? ExakTime’s cloud-based time tracking system collects 100% accurate time and attendance data so you don’t even have to think about rounding for the sake of ease. Better still, this data syncs with your payroll platform—no rounding required! Our system has solutions for everyone, including a time card app for remote employees and our online time clock for employees in the office. Request more information today!
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Amy Bourne is the marketing copywriter for ExakTime. She enjoys learning about the real challenges faced in the construction-related field, and providing content that helps business owners work smarter.

9 responses to “Rounding employee hours

  1. I have been an employee using this app for the past year and only have one request, and that is to be able to see the exact number of hours i have for the pay period. Other than that it is a nice program.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thank you for your feedback. If your employer has you approve your digital time card in ExakTime Connect prior to payroll, you’ll see the hours at that point. But if you mean in the app, you’re right: we’re not there yet, but your request is noted!


      The ExakTime Team

  2. I work for a company that uses rounding. We have devotions in the morning. We clock in at 7:53 and go straight down. If we clock in at 8:01, we are considered tardy. Is it legal for them to expect us to use the rounding for their benefit and then punish us for 8:01?

    1. Hi Sandy,

      This is probably based on company policy. Rounding policies and laws are more about what you are paid for and not whether or not you are considered tardy. I’m sorry we can’t be of more help in answering this question!

      -The ExakTime Team

  3. My employer rounds to the nearest 1/2 hour and it is almost always calculated and rounded starting at 17 minutes. For example if I work till 3:16 it is calculated as 3:00. Is this legal?

  4. How about rounding rules on pay rates?
    My HR department told me it’s an adp thing and they have no control so one check has one rate and then the next check rate is .001 lower
    There must be a reason

    1. So sorry, we aren’t able to provide expertise about pay rate rounding at this point. We’d advise checking with your state department of labor.


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