Can an employer lock you in and keep you from leaving work when you’ve already clocked out?

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Can an employer lock you in and keep you from leaving work when you’ve already clocked out?

I work the night shift so after the store closes the doors are locked; we stay as long as it takes to straighten everything out and wait for the manager to put all of the money in the safe. My concern is that after the manager tells us to clock out, which we all do, we’re kept there for 10+ minutes while he/she gets their stuff. In the meantime we are all prevented from leaving the store since he/she has the key to unlock the doors. Essentially, I’m wondering if they’re allowed to do this since we’re all clocked out and yet aren’t allowed to leave? And Security has already cleared the store.

Asked on March 30, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The employer could make you wait the extra ten or so minutes to leave, if that is a term or condition of your work--i.e. that you can't leave until the manager is ready.

However, if you are an hourly employee, you have to be paid for that time, even if it's after your nominal shift. It  doesn't matter if you already "clocked out"--essentially any time you are restricted to the work site for the employer's benefit or at the employer's direction is work time, and hourly employees must be paid for it.

The employer can let you leave after you clock out; or it can keep you on the clock until it's ready to let you leave--but it can't make you stay at work, if you're hourly, without paying you.


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