Employers are not required to maintain timecards for exempt employees in California. However, they are required to maintain them for nonexempt employees. Timecards should include all pertinent information about hours worked, breaks taken and wages paid.
Labor Law for Nonexempt Employees
California law requires that employers maintain payroll records for all employees and timecard records for nonexempt employees. Timecards are a way for the employer and the state to ensure that nonexempt employees are receiving proper breaks and overtime wages when applicable. Nonexempt employees in California are entitled to an unpaid 30-minute meal breaks when they work more than six hours a shift. Employees also must receive a 10-minute paid breaks for every four hours worked. Nonexempt employees are also entitled to time-and-a-half in wages for hours worked over eight a day or 40 a week.
Employers must have a record of each employee's personal information, including name, address, occupation, Social Security number and birth date. At a minimum, time records should show when the employee began and ended work each day, the meal breaks he took, the total daily hours worked, the total hours worked in the pay period and total compensation paid during the pay period.
California requires that all time records be written in English in ink or another permanent format. All records must be dated and must be retained for at least three years at a central location in California. Employers must be able to make these records available if the state requests them and employees are entitled to receive copies of time records. In order to avoid confusion or editing of time cards, both the employee and a supervisor should sign completed time cards.
Rounding and Shaving Time
It's illegal for an employer to "shave time" off of an employee time card. In other words, hourly employees need to be paid for all time they are on the clock. In 2012, California issued a ruling that allows employers and employees to round time to 10 minute increments. However, the rounding policy must be neutral and not systematically deprive employees of wages for time worked.