I am non-exempt I should be paid for all time spent on site, right?

I work in GA on a huge construction project. I was moved to a different department and now my work station is all the way on the other side of the site. I badge in the gate and then have to wait on a bus or walk across site which can take anywhere from 15-30 min to get to my desk. I am being told that I can only claim the time that I am sitting at my desk as work time and cannot count the time on the bus or in between as work time despite badging in at the front gate is my ‘clock in’ time. If I cannot claim this time it means I am on site for up to an hour or more daily that I am not being allowed to claim. That’s 5 hours a week I am not being paid for. I took this to HR on site and they say I should be at my desk by start time which is fine but it doesn’t resolve the fact that in order to be at my desk by that time I’d have to come in early and I would still be on site clocked in for 30 min every morning and I should be able to claim that time. I thought as a non-exempt employee I am to be paid for all time I am on the clock. Who do I need to contact if I feel that HR is directing me wrong and if I am correct am I entitled to back pay for all the hours that I have worked and was not allowed to claim?

Asked on September 7, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Once you clock in, you are by definition "on the clock" and must be paid. Your employer could definitely resolve this in their favor by having you clock in only at your actual worksite; but until they do that, if they have you *clock* in elsewhere on your property, when you clocked in, you started working and must be paid. 
That then brings up the important point: what exactly do you mean by "badge in"? if by that, you mean they start tracking your time, then you "clocked in" and should be paid (and should have a claim for upaid time). On the other hand, if they don't start tracking your time at that point but you just need the badge to access the property--but your time does not start being tracked until you then clock in separately/again at the work site--that is not paid time. So do you clock in when you get to the work site (e.g. at your desk)? If you do, that implies that badging in is only about access and is no more work than having an extra 15-30 minutes of commute due to traffic, etc. But if you don't clock in when you get to the worksite, but they rather start tracking your time when you badge in at the gate, they need to start paying you then.

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