You have to come in.. but you can't clock on.

I was responding to some comments on my post today and it sort of shot off a light bulb in my head. In my attempt to explain why my paychecks were so low (low pay because customers tip our labor costs, shorter hours than average job, etc.). Well, this made me remember something that occurred in my bar and I wanted to see if it happens anywhere else.

My boss, in an attempt to lower costs has done some ridiculous things. One of them was to hire his brother to do the schedule (which has caused chaos from the start). Another was to work the daytime manager shifts to save on labor costs (which has turned into a joke- as he calls in other managers almost every morning because he wants to do stuff like go fishing or run errands).

But one of the most ridiculous things he has done was to the staff. Without coming and telling us, he gave the managers a direct order not to let anyone clock into work when they get there. WE HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL WE GET PUT ON. Even though, on the schedule it might tell me to come in at ten pm.. sometimes I don't get put on until midnight. So I sit for an hour or two without getting paid. I think this is illegal.. but he has gone about it by telling us we will have to go on as soon as we clock in.. when there is clearly nobody in the bar and then the other bartenders have to split money with us and get pissed off.

Basically he has pitted us against eachother. If I want to clock in and get paid I have to go to work right away. Only the bar will not need me to work and will have to split the very little money they are making with me and everyone else who wanted to clock in. Therefore, everybody just waits until it gets busy enough to work and then clocks in.

It just annoys me because A.I'm getting paid like 4.50 an hour .. suck up that extra eight bucks. B. My average weekly hours are never over fifteen.. with or without the waiting to clock in rule. C. We don't have enough employees for this to actually make a difference for him.. he maybe saves a hundred bucks an hour.. whooppddiiidddooo.. We make him about 500 bucks an hour on each register.

Anyway, this is something that has always bugged me. I wonder if any other places do that.. and if it's legal.. etc. Please feel free to respond!


JumpIt said...

Our place has never done that and I would be calling everyone I could if any of our managers tried that. That is bullshit and I'm honestly surprised no one at your work had said anything to anyone about it. I would be climbing the ladder to talk to everyone higher up in that company, and then if nothing changed I would be letting the local news stations know.

Cielo Gold said...

That sounds backwards to me. What's the point of the schedule then? If you are scheduled for a certain time, show up on time only to clock in two hours later then you should have been originally scheduled for the later time.

Sounds like they are trying to cut corners and usually when a bar cuts corners, it's a bad (financial) sign. You're better off finding another bar or restaurant.

Anonymous said...

To my knowledge this is a highly illegal practice. I'd recommend looking up your state's labor laws to be certain, but to my knowledge if you are scheduled at a certain time then you must either be allowed to clock in at that time or allowed to leave. Waiting around until it gets busier is essentially being on-call. If during this time you are not free to leave until "called in," then you must be paid.

29 CFR 785.17 - On-call time.

* Section Number: 785.17
* Section Name: On-call time.

An employee who is required to remain on call on the employer's
premises or so close thereto that he cannot use the time effectively for
his own purposes is working while ``on call''. An employee who is not
required to remain on the employer's premises but is merely required to
leave word at his home or with company officials where he may be reached
is not working while on call. (Armour & Co. v. Wantock, 323 U.S. 126
(1944); Handler v. Thrasher, 191 F. 2d 120 (C.A. 10, 1951); Walling v.
Bank of Waynesboro, Georgia, 61 F. Supp. 384 (S.D. Ga. 1945))

From: http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/Title_29/Part_785/29CFR785.17.htm

Complaints can be made to the Department of Labor or you can file a lawsuit.

BB said...

Oh you're right cielo! He's def. trying to cut corners, no doubt about that.

And I agree with everyone is saying that is ridiculous and we should have called someone. I just quit last week so it wouldn't do me a whole lot of good to complain now. I was just curious about the legality which KH cleared up very well! (And thank you for that!)

I think this was his loophole: He told us that we could gladly clock in and get put on. The trouble with that is nobody wanted to clock in and stand there fighting for customers when nobody was in the bar. Some days, very rarely, it would be busy enough for us to go on right when we got there. But most of the time it would be later when it got busy. But in order to be prepared we were all required to be there by nine or ten.. when in reality it gets busy between 11 and 12. So, I guess he just found the loophole?

BB said...

And to clarify.. by not wanting to to get put on and stand around.. I'm not saying we were lazy. We do tipouts by register totals. So the first on, who has the most seniority, has the opportunity to make the most money. If we all went on when we got there and took the customers that one bartender could serve it would take the point of seniority away.. and everyone would make about the same. Most people don't want to make the senior people mad .. those that have been there for the longest by just going on to work. Plus, it's a respect thing.

The one perk was that I could drink before I got put on for free because I was technically working but I wasn't clocked in so I could drink.

megaphon said...

Well, although you seem to be in a worse place than me, this doesn't sound unusual to me!
My boss started to work the dayshift herself to save money, can't cope alone and has the manager helping her. Tough luck for the dayshift workers! Of course my boss is horrible at "her" job!

We - the night people - are expected to be in 15 minutes before the shift starts to put your bags somewhere, have a soda, a cigarette, whatever. It's useful to prepare yourself for the 12-hour-shift ahead of you. But since my boss is working, those 15 minutes are occupied by doing HER sidework, rolling silverware, stocking up, doing the dishes - she just makes us do it!

I can SOOO feel what you're going through!!!

Kristin said...

Owners are famous for winding ways around the laws. It's so wrong.

BB said...

They are and it is! I need to be my own boss!!!

BB said...


It does seem like the bosses know less than the workers at our place too. When the night managers come in they complain about how the owners never do any of the day duties and they are stuck with a bunch of work!

And you work 12 hour serving shifts? That's just insane!

Waiting said...

Megaphon - what your boss does is also illegal. You aren't required to do anything work related off the clock. In fact, I'm pretty sure for insurance purposes you are supposed to be clocked in.

Our big thing my managers are concerned with is clocking out. Our manager want us to leave the floor 30 minutes before our clock out time in order to have our sidework completed before we leave.

The problem is that one of our managers will continue to seat us until that time and then we have tables to wait on while we do our sidework. Now it takes longer to do our sideword and our tables aren't closed out because most people don't finish eating in 30 minutes. This manager then gets furious as though this is somehow our fault and not a result of her being an idiot. She then starts yelling like a disappointed parent who found out your skipped school and insists that you clockout and finish your tables. Some people clockout to avoid conflict but I don't. I tell her that if she had in fact wanted me to clockout on time then she probably would've stopped seating me sooner.

Another point that should be made is we have two hostesses at all times. Her seating people is completely unnecessary.

Now back to your situation: It sounds like your boss is a tool and I bet if he were to actual look at food cost and other factors he would be able to find where he is actually losing money. More than likely it's not wages.

BB said...

I think that most restaurant/bar owner's try to manipulate pay in some way. The funny thing is that the wage is so low.. that you wouldn't think it would matter. Why is your manager so pissy about clocking out? And why is my manager so pissy about clocking in? Really, that extra 4.65 per employee per hour isn't going to make much a dent in his earnings. Esepcially, when the acts are illegal.. it seems a lot to be risking.. when the reward is not that high.

Anonymous said...


Adam Walters said...

In an economy where companies are cutting back costs and labor, it is very important for you to understand and know your rights on overtime pay, labor, and wage laws . Many companies do not follow state guidelines and are not paying their workers the pay that they are required to receive. Some of them do not even realize that they are doing this which is why it is important for you to know your rights. Do not panic if you feel as if you have been wrongfully paid though, there are firms out there that are willing to listen and help you get what you deserve.

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