Is it legal for my employer to have the dispatcher clock me in and out, or must I be the one who does it?

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Is it legal for my employer to have the dispatcher clock me in and out, or must I be the one who does it?

Also, we don’t always get our lunch break, and when we do, we are not taken off the clock for half an hour or whatever the break may be, so even 5 minutes into our lunch, it gets cancelled and we get sent on another non-emergency call. I work as an EMT on a Basic Life Support ambulance. 

Asked on June 10, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Two different issues:

First, there is no law about who or how time  is recorded; the only requirement is that it be recorded accurately. But as long as it is taken down accurately, it doesn't matter whether it's the employee, the dispatcher, HR, etc. who is the one who records it.

Second, while there are some rules about getting lunch breaks, there are also some jobs and positions where the employer has considerable flexibility in not giving lunch. To answer the question definitively about your specific right to lunch or other breaks, consult with an HR attorney, who can evaluate the specifics of your situation. From a broader perspective, the key issue is, if work through lunch, are you being paid for that work (assuming you are not an exempt employee; from what you write, you not). If you are being paid for all time worked, then the employer is complying with the most important wage and hour rules.


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