What is Time Clock Punch Rounding

What is Time Clock Punch Rounding?

4/10 Work Schedules

Time clock punch rounding is the rounding of time clock punches to make payroll calculations simpler. Punch rounding can benefit employees, granting them a grace period when starting or ending work, but be aware that some employees may try to game the system to take advantage of employers.

Here are some situations
  • Your employees arrive at work early and punch in before their shift. They spend that time drinking coffee and talking to each other, waiting for their shift to begin. Or, they punch out after sitting around talking amongst one another after their shift ends.
  • You have several employees who need to punch in and/or out at the same time. This may take more than a minute for all of them to punch in or out for the day. As a result, some of them end up punching in or out late.

Regardless of the situation, once an employee punches in, that time is considered work time. This means that, legally, you must pay employees for that time. So, what solutions exist to remedy this situation?

Punch Rounding

Punch rounding may be an ample solution for these situations.

Federal law imposes restrictions on rounding an employee’s time. Rounding is allowed only if the following criteria are met:

  • The rounding must work both in the employer and employee's favor. You can’t decide to only round when it benefits the employer.
  • You cannot round in increments greater than 15 minutes.
  • The rounding must be applied so that the employee is still fully paid for all hours he or she actually worked. If your employees are clocking in 10 minutes before a scheduled shift and actually start working early, you cannot round away that work time, even though it occurred before the scheduled shift's start time.

Note: You should check with your attorney to see if your state has additional rules regarding rounding. If there is a difference between federal and state law, then the law that favors the employee is the one that must be obeyed.

The most standard amounts of rounding are the following.

Quarter-hour rounding (15 minutes): This is sometimes called the 7/8 rule. The 15 minutes is split so it is 7 ½ minutes before the quarter hour to 7 ½ minutes after the quarter hour, and all the punches are on 15-minute increments. So, if an employee punches in between 7:53 and 8:07, it will record the punch as 8:00. If he or she punches in at 8:08, then it is rounded up to 8:15.

Rounding by the 1/10 of an hour (six minute): The 1/10 of an hour is six minutes. The six minutes are split, so it is three minutes before the 1/10 of an hour to three minutes after the 1/10 hour, so all the punches are tagged on six-minute increments. So, if an employee punches in between 7:57 and 8:03, it will record the punch as 8:00. If they punch in at 8:04, then it is rounded to 8:06.

Rounding by five minutes: The five minutes is split so it is 2 ½ minutes before the five-minute increment to 2 ½ minutes after the five-minute increment, and the punches are all on five-minute increments. So, if an employee punches in between 7:58 and 8:02, it will record the punch as 8:00. If he or she punches in at 8:03, then it is rounded to 8:05.

"Ninth Circuit Roundly Supports Time Punch Rounding" is an interesting article by Seyfarth Shaw LLP. The plaintiff, from California, was trying to get his company to pay him an extra $15.02 for one minute of work. The Ninth Circuit Court ruled in the employer’s favor and supported punch rounding. You can read the whole article by clicking on the link above.

How does the OnTheClock Time Clock Help with Punch Rounding?


OnTheClock has a punch rounding option. The administrator can find this on the "Time Clock Settings" page, under the "Basic Settings" tab.

Ontheclock_Time_Clock_Rounding Setting

OnTheClock's options for punch rounding are as follows:

  • 0 – There is no punch rounding occurring here, so all punch times are actual times.
  • 6 – This would be rounding by the 1/10 hour or six-minute increment rounding, three minutes before and three minutes after each six-minute increment.
  • 15 – This option is quarter-hour rounding, 7 ½ minutes before and 7 ½ minutes after each quarter of an hour.

The following are examples and the examples are in this format: 
Hour: Minutes: Seconds       

0 punch rounding gives exact clock-in and -out times.

Six-minute punch rounding works like this:

  1. If an employee punches in at 7:57:00 thru 8:03:00, it rounds it to 8:00.
  2. If an employee punches in at 7:56:59, it rounds to 7:54.
  3. If an employee punches in at 8:03:01, it rounds to 8:06.
  4. All punches are executed in six-minute increments.

15-minute punch rounding works like this:

  1. If an employee punches in at 7:52:30 thru 8:07.30, it rounds to 8:00.
  2. If an employee punches in at 7:52:29, it rounds to 7:45.
  3. If an employee punches in at 8:07:31, it rounds to 8:15.
  4. All punches are executed in 15-minute increments.

Time Clock Punch Rounding Chart

Minute Mark Six-Minute Rounding 15-Minute Rounding
0 0 0
1 0 0
2 0 0
3 6 0
4 6 0
5 6 0
6 6 0
7 6 0
8 6 15
9 12 15
10 12 15
11 12 15
12 12 15
13 12 15
14 12 15
15 18 15
16 18 15
17 18 15
18 18 15
19 18 15
20 18 15
21 24 15
22 24 15
23 24 30
24 24 30
25 24 30
26 24 30
27 30 30
28 30 30
29 30 30
30 30 30
31 30 30
32 30 30
33 36 30
34 36 30
35 36 30
36 36 30
37 36 30
38 36 45
39 42 45
40 42 45
41 42 45
42 42 45
43 42 45
44 42 45
45 48 45
46 48 45
47 48 45
48 48 45
49 48 45
50 48 45
51 54 45
52 54 45
53 54 60
54 54 60
55 54 60
56 54 60
57 60 60
58 60 60
59 60 60

Time Tracking with Punch Rounding

Make payroll calculations simpler





Seyfarth Shaw


OnTheClock Employee Time Tracking

Written by

OnTheClock Team

OnTheClock is the perfect app for business that want to keep track of their employees' time without spending hours doing it. With OnTheClock, you can forget about the old way of doing things.

Do you want to know more about how OnTheClock works?

a thought From Jay on 12/29/2020 ...
My employer has previously had my pay cut. We have to manually write our shift start/end times including breaks and I use the free time card calculator. I calculated my last week work hours to a total of 34.16. But my employer reduced it to 33.75. Why?! I'm so furious I wasn't paid for the full hours I worked! Is this allowed??
reply from OTC - Hi Jay, thanks for the question. The simple answer is that employers are required by law to pay their employees for the hours they worked. Having tangible evidence to track hours worked such as a time clock system is a great solution to do so. We hope this helps.
a thought From Eldon L Harris on 8/6/2020 ...
If I clock in at 5:58 and they round me up to 6:00. And Im working then are they aloud to do that. Cause we cant clock out till 3:30. Where not aloud to clock out at 3:28. So I in up working 9:02. That in up being 976 min a yr.
reply from OTC - Hello Eldon and thank you for the comment on our time clock blog. It is law that employees are to be paid for the hours and time in which they work. We recommend speaking with your HR department to gain further clarification regarding your situation. You may have discovered an error in the company's payroll process.
a thought From Valerie Flaherty on 4/10/2020 ...
Can only work 7.75 hours no lunch punch in at 8am what time do I punch out at?
reply from OTC - Hi Valerie. Thanks for reaching out. If you are punching in at 8:00 am and working a straight 7.75 hours without a lunch or break deduction, then your punch out time would be 4:45 pm.
a thought From Matt on 11/10/2019 ...
Employer uses a 7-minute rounding rule. I am allowed to clock in 7 minutes prior to my shift, but will be disciplined if I’m even 1 minute late. Am I still considered on-time if If I clock in 7 minutes passed my start time? Can I still be reprimanded if technically according to the rule I’m on-time?
reply from OTC - Hi Matt, if your employer's policy is that you can clock in 7 minutes earlier than your designated start time, but you cannot clock in any later than your designated start time, then you must abide by those rules. Each company is different with their rules, but in your case it sounds like the 7 minute rule does not apply for after your start time. We truly hope this information helps.
a thought From James on 9/29/2019 ...
My employer demands that I clock in no earlier than 14 minutes till my shift starts. Then if I leave even 30 seconds early they dock me 15 minutes. how is this working in both the employee and the employer favor? For example, I start work at 3 o clock p.m. I clock in at 2:46 p.m. as required. Then I clocked out at 2:59 a.m. and my employer docked me 15 minutes.
reply from OTC - Hi James, Thank you for reaching out. It sounds like the company you work for is using a punch rounding method. However, it usually does not round down to the nearest quarter of an hour if the time that the employee punched in is closer to a specific time. For example, your time punched out is 2:59 which most employers would simply round up to 3:00. But if you were to punch out at 2:51, then your employer may opt to round down to 2:45. We recommend consulting with your management or Hr department to see what the company policy is. Or if you have an employee handbook then you may find it in there as well. Perhaps even recommend they use our time clock system so everyone is paid to the exact minute in which they worked. We hope this information is valuable.
a thought From Lisa Grubb on 8/28/2019 ...
My employer defaults my time card 15 minutes before my shift and 15 minutes at the end of my shift 8 to 5. If I work to 6:20pm can they default my time to 5:00
reply from OTC - Hi Lisa, thank you for reaching out. The Department of Labor states that employees must be paid for the time in which they work. We hope this helps answer your question.
a thought From David on 8/14/2019 ...
I am a salaried, exempt, employee at a business that uses rounding to round to the nearest quarter hour. My employer has everyone clock in and out, regardless of whether they are salaried, exempt, or not. I also keep a written record of my actual IN and OUT punches, so I know when my true hours are above or below the hours I need for the pay period. My situation arises where my total hours, based on my actual punches, is exactly what I am required to have, but the recorded hours are less than required because of rounding. My employer will use some of my personal or vacation time raise my recorded hours up to the required hours, even though my true hours are exactly what they need to be. My question is, can they use my saved up personal or vacation time to artificially make my recorded hours match the true hours?
reply from OTC - Hi David, thanks for the question. This is something that we cannot answer to the fullest. Each employer has their own punch rounding policies. We would recommend putting in the time in which you are required to prevent this from happening - this includes assuring that your time will be rounded to the nearest quarter of an hour as you previously mentioned. Typically employers will use the 7th minute to determine the rounding. For example, if you punch out at 4:07, then your employer may round that down to 4:00. But if you were to punch out at 4:08, then your employer may punch round to 4:15 pm. This is just an example so we highly recommend that you speak with your HR or management department to gather specifics regarding how they determine punch rounding. We hope this helps.
a thought From Fran on 8/1/2019 ...
If my scheduled shift starts at 6:30 and I clock in at 6:30 and 5seconds. Does that make me late?
reply from OTC - Hi Fran, thank you for the question. If your shift starts at 6:30 then you should punch in no later than 6:30. We hope this helps.
a thought From Jula on 7/24/2019 ...
If i punch in 6:05 what time i punch out to get my 8 hours
reply from OTC - Hello Jula, this is a little difficult for us to know since we do not know whether or not breaks are deducted from your shift. However, if you worked a paid straight 8 hour shift, then this would put your 8 hours at 2:05. We hope this helps.
a thought From Jamie on 5/25/2019 ...
I punch out at 4:44pm and have a hour lunch what time I come back
reply from OTC - Hi Jamie, If you punch out at 4:44 pm and you receive 1 hour for a lunch break (60 minutes), then you would need to punch back in at 5:44 pm. Thanks for contacting us.
a thought From Melissa on 5/15/2019 ...
We use a 15 minute punch clock. We have always been told to round punches to the nearest 15, example: clocked in 735-1025 rounds to 730-1030, then 1228-328 rounds to 1230-330, for a total of 6 hours. My new payroll manager instead took the total minutes rather than punch rounding and added up my total time of 5h50minutes and rounded it down to 5h45minutes. My question is, if we are suppose to do 15 minutes punch rounding, doesn't that mean each punch in and out is rounded to the nearest 15minutes. Or can they instead total all minutes and round that instead? This is a new change and a few of us are noticing missing hours on our checks due to this new calculation method of rounding total minutes to the nearest 15 rather than the 15 minute punch we have always done. Thanks!!
reply from OTC - Hi Melissa, Many employers use punch rounding to simplify payroll by rounding hours to the nearest 15 minutes. The Department of Labor allows employers to round up or round down, however, it should generally favor the employee - see link below. Based on the example, it does appear that your manager is operating within the DOL guidelines, rounding down from 5h50minutes to 5h45minutes.

With that said, our first question would be, how is your punch clock displaying hours? Actual hours worked or 15-minute increments? Many times this can be resolved by discussing your concerns with your manager and asking for clarification.

Here is a link to the DOL that helps to explain these rules.


We hope this helps

~The OTC Team
a thought From MAYRA GARCIA on 5/9/2019 ...
I punch out at 12:51 and I have 30 minute lunch what time should I get back?
reply from OTC - Hi Mayra, if you are punching out at 12:51 for a 30 minute lunch break then you would need to punch back in by 1:21. We hope this helps.
a thought From Jacqueline smalley on 4/6/2019 ...
If I Punch at 3 o'clock and I have 1 hour for lunch what time should I get back?
reply from OTC - Hi Jacqueline, We would recommend that you come back to work 1 hour after the time you punch out for lunch.
a thought From Terrie on 1/2/2019 ...
If I work 91/2 hours today what time do I clock out
reply from OTC - Hi Terrie, this would depend on what time you clocked in. Check out our Free Time Calculator: https://www.ontheclock.com/Free-Online-Time-Card-Calculator.aspx

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