Can a business require you to come in at a certain time but then not allow you to clock in until later?

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Can a business require you to come in at a certain time but then not allow you to clock in until later?

I work at a restaraunt and they have been scheduling us to come in at 11 a.m. but they don’t allow us to clock in until later (after the opening servers get 3 tables each and someone sits in our section). This can sometimes be over an hour after we arrive. Is this legal for them to make us come in at a certain time but not pay us until much later after we arrive? They have us sit at a table not working during this waiting time but it still frustrates me and much of the other staff.

Asked on January 29, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Is it legal to make you come to work at 11 am, but not clock in for another hour. In a word--NO. Any time you are required to be at work--even if the "work" consists of just sitting at a table while being available at the workplace--you are working; and all working time must be paid. What your employer is doing is illegal, and you need to be paid for the time spent waiting. You could try contacting the state or federal labor department (or your city one, if your city has a labor department or the equivalent--some large cities do) or you could contact an employment attorney and see if it might be worthwhile for you,  either on your own or with your colleagues, to bring a lawsuit to recover unpaid wages. Good luck.


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