Seven out of 10 Americans aren’t fans of changing the clocks at the start and end of daylight saving time (DST). And if you have employees who work the graveyard shift, you might not like the payroll issues that come with DST. So, how does daylight savings time work when employees are on the clock? Do night shift workers get paid for daylight savings?
Read on to learn:
- What is daylight saving time?
- Is DST ending soon?
- What employers need to know about the night shift
- Do night shift workers get paid for daylight savings?
- FLSA daylight savings time: Tips for employers
What is daylight saving time?
Daylight saving time is the process of setting the clocks ahead by one hour to increase daylight hours from spring to fall. DST is also known as daylight savings time (with the extra “s” at the end of saving) and summer time.
Daylight saving time begins on the second Sunday in March at 2 a.m. and ends on the first Sunday in November at 2 a.m. This is known as “springing forward” and “falling back.” Here’s a more detailed look:
- How does spring forward work? On the second Sunday in March, clocks are set ahead an hour (aka 2 a.m. becomes 3 a.m.)
- How does fall back work? On the first Sunday in November, clocks are set back an hour (aka 2 a.m. becomes 1 a.m.)
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 is a federal law that mandated daylight saving time. States can decide whether they want to observe DST or not. States are not allowed to be on daylight savings time permanently.
Almost all states observe daylight saving time. Arizona (excluding Navajo Nation) and Hawaii are the only states that do not observe DST.
Is DST ending soon?
“But isn’t the time change ending soon?” Maybe…
In 2022, the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021. This bill would make DST the new permanent standard time beginning November 5, 2023. As a result, there would be no more springing forward and falling back—time would permanently stay in “spring forward.”
The Sunshine Protection Act passed unanimously in the Senate. But to become law, the House must pass it and the president sign it (so stay tuned!).
Several states have legislation or passed resolutions to observe DST year-round. But under the Uniform Time Act, states can’t implement this change—unless the Sunshine Protection Act becomes law.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states could implement permanent DST if the bill becomes a law. However, some of these states will only do so if surrounding states also do.
What employers need to know about the night shift
The night shift (also called the graveyard, third, or midnight shift) is one of several types of work shifts your business might have and takes place overnight. Employees begin their shift at night and leave work in the morning the next day.
For example, an employee working an eight-hour night shift might start work at 11:00 p.m. and leave at 8:00 a.m. (with a one-hour “lunch” break).
Examples of positions that work the graveyard shift include emergency services (e.g., ER doctors), security, hospitality, and manufacturing.
Employees who work overnight may receive a shift differential. A shift differential is extra pay employees receive for working less desirable hours.
Do night shift workers get paid for daylight savings?
Again, daylight savings begins at 2 a.m. in the spring and ends at 2 a.m. in the fall. So if you have employees who work the night shift, DST may impact them—and the way you calculate work hours for payroll.
DST can impact:
- Your employees’ work schedules
- The overnight employee’s actual hours worked
- Whether the employee works overtime
- How much you pay the employee
The way daylight saving time affects overnight employees depends on the time of year (aka whether the clocks spring forward or fall back).
How does spring forward work for payroll?
When DST begins, the clocks spring forward. People lose an hour of sleep. Likewise, third-shift employees lose an hour of work.
Let’s say an employee typically works from 11:00 p.m. – 8:00 a.m. on Sunday nights. This is an eight-hour shift with a one-hour lunch break.
On the second Sunday in March, DST begins at 2:00 a.m. This changes the time from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. The employee still gets to work at 11:00 p.m., takes a one-hour lunch break, and leaves at 8:00 a.m.
Even though the schedule shows the employee working eight hours, they only work seven hours because of the time change. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay employees for hours actually worked. So if an employee only works seven hours because of DST, they’re entitled to seven hours’ pay.
To avoid confusion and ensure compliance, you could adjust the employees’ schedules so they work the full eight hours when DST begins.
For example, an employee who typically works 11:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. could work from 11:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
How does fall back work for payroll?
When DST ends, the clocks fall back. People gain an hour of sleep. And, third-shift employees gain an hour of work.
Again, say an employee works from 11:00 p.m. – 8:00 a.m. on Sunday nights with a one-hour lunch break. Typically, this is an eight-hour shift.
On the first Sunday in November, DST ends at 2:00 a.m. This changes the time from 2:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. The employee still gets to work at 11:00 p.m., takes a one-hour lunch break, and leaves at 8:00 a.m.
Although the schedule shows the employee working their normal eight hours, they work nine hours because of the time change. The employee works the hour from 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. twice. Under the FLSA, the employee is entitled to nine hours’ pay because of DST.
The extra hour of work could also cause the employee to work overtime. If they’re a nonexempt employee, the FLSA requires that you pay them overtime for any hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. And, several states (e.g., California) require that employers provide overtime pay for hours worked beyond eight hours in a workday. Understand overtime laws by state to stay compliant.
To avoid confusion and ensure compliance, you could adjust the employees’ schedules so they only work eight hours when DST ends.
For example, an employee who typically works 11:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. could work from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.
FLSA daylight savings time: Tips for employers
Daylight saving time could cause confusion for employers and employees who work night shifts.
Keep the following tips in mind to avoid confusion and ensure compliance:
- Modify schedules so employees work eight hours when DST begins and ends
- Use reliable time and attendance software to track hours actually worked
- Update your payroll if employees work more or less than eight hours due to DST (and pay overtime, if applicable)
- Stay up-to-date with your state laws for specific state rules
Daylight saving time can put a wrench in your payroll process. Patriot’s payroll software and Time & Attendance software add-on make it easy to track and pay employees for hours worked. Review time cards and send work hours to payroll with one simple click. Get your free trial of both today!
This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.