Now that the clocks have changed for the ending of Daylight Savings Time (DST) there may be overtime implications for employers, especially for those employees who work graveyard or overnight shifts.  As clocks are set an hour back, people work one hour more when Daylight Savings Time ends, and they work one hour less when the clocks are set ahead one hour in the Spring.

An example: The scheduled shift is 11:00PM-730AM; the employee works eight hours and gets a half-hour for lunch.  On the Sunday that Daylight Savings Time ends at 2AM (November 5, 2023) and Standard Time begins, the clocks are moved back one hour so the employee works that same hour “twice” and therefore will receive nine hours of pay for that single shift.  Thus, on November 5 into November 6, the employee has worked nine hours, even though scheduled for eight hours.  Conversely, in the Spring, the employee loses that “extra” eighth hour worked because the clocks are moved ahead.  Therefore, in the Spring, these employees will “work” seven hours even although scheduled for eight hours.

Employers need to be aware of these time changes, especially in November, because the extra hour could propel one or more employees into an unexpected overtime situation because of that extra hour.  Employers can either pay the overtime or adjust the schedules of these employees to cause them to work one hour less on another day.  Then, the hours worked will “balance out” and no overtime will be owed in that November week.  The FLSA is a cruel master in these situations and will require the November overtime, notwithstanding that the inadvertent overtime is not due to the business needs of the employer or operating exigencies.

The Takeaway

Employers need to understand that if they get this wrong in the autumn, they could be depriving numerous employees (e.g., an entire shift) of an hour of pay, very possibly overtime pay, which could well be the genesis of a class action.  Indeed, such an action on this issue would be a viable one with no employer defense.  Employers can avoid the overtime issue in November by sending the workers home an hour earlier on another night, so the hours balance out.  Note that there may also be certain States that have their own versions of such laws (or no such laws at all) and employers must comply with them as well.

Easy, ain’t it…