November 01, 2007
Do You Know the Make-Up Time Rules?

If a nonexempt employee has to take a few hours off to take her elderly father to the doctor, she might ask to make up the lost time on another workday, rather than lose a day's pay that week. The problem is, the employee is scheduled for 8 hours each day, so any extra time means you'll be on the hook for overtime, right?

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Maybe not. California law provides a solution that permits the employee to keep his or her full pay and allows you to avoid paying premium rates: It's called make-up time.

The make-up time provisions, found in Labor Code Section 513 and the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Orders, allow an employee who takes time off for a personal obligation to make up that work time in the same workweek, at straight-time pay--even if the employee works more than 8 hours on a make-up day. The make-up time is not counted in the total number of hours worked when computing daily overtime unless the total hours worked exceeds 11 in a day or 40 in a week.

Remember, however, that the time must be made up in the same workweek as the time lost. The make-up time can occur earlier or later in that workweek than the time taken off.

So, for example, an employee who will miss 2 hours on Friday can make up that time earlier in the week, perhaps working an extra hour each on Monday and Tuesday; an employee missing 2 hours on Monday can make up the time the following Friday.

Each time an employee wants to make up work time, he or she must give you a signed, written request for your approval. An employee who knows in advance that he or she will be seeking make-up time for a personal obligation that recurs at a fixed time can request up to 4 weeks in advance to work make-up time.

So, for example, an employee who knows of the need for 2 hours off each Wednesday for the next 4 weeks can submit a single make-up time request rather than 4 separate requests. However, the make-up work must still be performed in the same week that the work time is actually lost.

Another point to keep in mind: You cannot solicit or encourage employees to work make-up time, but you can inform them about the make-up time option. Also, you can't condition your approval of the time off on the employee's agreement to use make-up time.

To help ensure that your company properly administers make-up time, it's a good idea to have a written make-up time policy laying out the rules and limitations, as well as a make-up time form employees can use for their requests. Also, train managers on the rules, including the prohibition on soliciting, encouraging, or requiring make-up time. And finally, be sure to set up a system to track make-up time to ensure employees don't work more than 11 hours on make-up days or 40 hours for the week. 

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