In the intricate landscape of workplace dynamics, even seemingly routine policies can have far-reaching consequences on organizational culture.  Rounding time, a standard administrative process, is not exempt from this impact.  When improperly executed, time rounding can shadow workplace culture, impacting employee morale, trust, and overall satisfaction.


The Fair Labor Standards Act permits rounding.  It states, “ It has been found that in some industries, particularly where time clocks are used, there has been the practice for many years of recording the employees’ starting time and stopping time to the nearest five minutes, or to the nearest one-tenth or quarter of an hour.  Presumably, this arrangement averages out so that the employees are fully compensated for all the time they actually work.  For enforcement purposes, this practice of computing working time will be accepted, provided that it is used in such a manner that it will not result, over a period of time, in failure to compensate the employees properly for all the time they have actually worked.”

However, this regulation was written in 1938, before modern time and attendance systems.  Until the late 1980s, most employers used paper time cards to track punches.  It was easier to round the punches to the nearest 5, 6, or 15 minutes to total the time for payroll.  For example, if a person punched in at 758 AM, the punch was rounded to 800 AM.  In their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), many unions still have this rounding policy. 


Different rounding policies can develop depending on the culture a company is trying to achieve.  Some companies place a premium on flexibility and work-life balance.  They want to build trust with their employees.  These organizations may still use a task sheet for employees to enter when they start or stop work manually.  They want to make work as flexible as possible for employees because they know things like traffic, a late bus, or daycare issues may arise.  For this reason, companies want to make this range as long as possible, like rounding the nearest 15 minutes.

Other companies may need to take the opposite approach.  A school bus driver must start work at a specific time to inspect their vehicle before starting their route.  They have children waiting at their first stop.  This scenario would force the company to have little leeway for rounding punches.

Employee Satisfaction

Rounding time, while seemingly procedural, can influence employee satisfaction.  There will be employees who will use rounding time to their advantage.  This circumstance often happens with rounding time to the nearest 15-minute interval.  This rounding style is also called a 7/8 split.  If a person clocks in at 807 AM, the time is rounded to 800 AM.  If they clock in at 808 AM, the time is rounded to 815 AM.  If a person consistently clocks in at 807 AM, in a standard 5-work week, they work 35 minutes less per week than the person who clocks in at the start of their shift.  In essence, they are stealing time from their employer.  Often, others will see this behavior and either complain about it to management or emulate the same behavior, neither of which fosters a good work culture.  Tracking people who are habitually tardy or leave early can be achieved through a point system to manage attendance, as long as it is tied to the time clock.


Rounding time, if handled with ambiguity, can erode trust among employees.  The company is responsible for openly communicating the rounding process and promptly addressing concerns.  Transparent rounding builds trust, contributing to a workplace culture where employees feel confident in the fairness of organizational processes.


As stated earlier, the FLSA allows rounding as long as “it will not result, over a period of time, in failure to compensate the employees properly for all the time they have actually worked.”  In other words, the total rounding up or down of an employee’s hours over time cannot be less than the actual time worked.  Court cases in California and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals note where rounding time was to the employee’s detriment, and the court ruled in these class action suits in the employee’s favor.

In California, meal breaks cannot be rounded, period.  Employees must be given a 30-minute uninterrupted meal break after five work hours.  Rounding time for meal breaks may not give the employee this uninterrupted time.

When rounding time is not perceived as in the employee’s favor, trust can erode and negatively affect your organization’s culture.  Rounding time should be audited on at least an annual basis to verify that it is not negatively impacting your employees. 

Employers can implement clear policies and support employees’ time-off requests to create a positive and productive work environment.  Managing PTO requests effectively and efficiently enhances employee retention and attracts top talent to your organization.  

How can we help?

Round time can affect labor costs, morale, and trust in even the healthiest organization.  Time Equipment Company has various rounding methods to match your company’s culture while complying with local and federal laws.  In addition, implementing an Absence Management System can be a simple way to track and report negative attendance trends and reinforce positive behaviors.   

To learn how Time Equipment Company can incorporate your rounding and attendance policies into its world-class time and attendance system, contact us at or 800-997-8463.