Early last week most of us felt a little dazed and tired from the end of daylight savings time. But will that time change lead to more injuries and some workers getting shorted on their paychecks?
The end of daylight savings time and workplace safety
Studies show that daylight savings time in the spring leads to an increase in work injuries. While no studies have been done on the end of daylight savings time, experts state that any changes to the bodies ciciadian rhythms can lead to lower concentration, which can increase the risk of work injury. In short, if you feel a little off in the days after daylight savings time, your chances of injury on the job increase.
Fatigue leads to injuries. The risk of fatigue-related injury at work tends to increase in November and December as many workers take on increased hours or second jobs during the holiday season.
The time shift and wage theft
A tweet from a high-profile New York congresswoman reminded workers who work overnight to check their paystubs as sometime computerized timekeeping records will miss time shifts. Workers in human services, transportation and retailing would be particularly vulnerable to this form of wage theft.
Proving up actual unpaid time is one of the biggest challenges for employees when it comes to wage and hour law. The United States Department of Labor has an app callled Timesheet which allows workers to monitor their own hours. The law favors employees who bring wage and hour violations to the attention of their employers in a prompt manner.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also includes anti-retaliation provisions which protect an employee who brings up a potential wage and hour violation to their employer.
While one hour of unpiad wages would be a small amount of money, an employer would not be able to plead a de minimis defense. That defense only applies in pre and post shift activities. Workers can join together in collective action cases under the FLSA. This allows workers to join together for relatively small amounts of wage loss. But workers are forced to opt-in or affirmatively join those cases. The opt-in provision works to limit the actual damages payable in these cases. I am involved in a collective case now where about 1/10 of the eligible workers decided to opt-in.
Up until 2018, I think it would be fair to say that workers who banded to together to address unpaid wages would also be covered under the National Labor Relations Act. (NLRA) In the wake of the Epic decision, I have some doubts about whether that activity would be protected. The Epic decision also gave employers the ability to take away the right of employees to join together to sue the employer for wage violations.