February 15, 2019

Wage and Hour

The university abides by all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations concerning employee compensation, including all minimum wage and salary requirements and pay regulations. Likewise, the university also adheres to federal and state requirements regarding timekeeping of hours worked. In the event of a difference between this policy and a collective bargaining agreement, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement govern.


The university Office of Compensation (within Human Resources Administration) is responsible for compensation administration, which is exercised within guidelines established by the university. Detailed information for HR professionals is provided on the HR Professional Intranet. Employees with questions regarding compensation should contact their manager or local HR representative.

Employees in non-exempt positions are subject to certain wage and hour protections provided by state and federal law, including state meal and rest period requirements and the obligation to pay overtime based on hours worked. All staff positions are classified as non-exempt unless the duties performed meet criteria established under federal and state regulations allowing the positions to be classified as exempt. Only the Office of Compensation may make this determination. An employee may change classifications only with written authorization from the university; there are no automatic conversions from one classification to the other.

  • Non-exempt employees are paid on a wage basis for all hours worked, and compensated at overtime pay rates for all qualified overtime hours based on federal and state definitions and requirements. The university has established strict timekeeping procedures for non-exempt employees to comply with these requirements. See the Manager Gateway timekeeping page and the Employee Gateway timekeeping page for details.
  • Exempt employees are paid an established monthly salary and are expected to fulfill the duties of their positions regardless of hours worked. Exempt employees are not eligible to receive overtime pay or compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay.

Student workers are enrolled at USC and claim student status. They are limited to part-time employment of 20 hours or less per week when school is in session. They are also subject to laws governing overtime, and meal and rest periods.

Timekeeping for non-exempt employees

Federal and state regulations require that hours worked each workday by non-exempt employees be recorded. For most employees, these records are maintained in Workday, although some other electronic timekeeping systems are also approved for use at USC; timekeeping must take place in the appropriate approved system.

Managers must ensure that all time worked is recorded, and that employees do not work (and are not pressured to work) any time that is not recorded. See the Manager Gateway timekeeping page for details.

Required meal and rest periods

State law requires the university to provide an uninterrupted, unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes to all non-exempt employees (faculty, staff and students) who work more than five hours in a workday. Employees are prohibited from working “off the clock” during their meal periods. Employees should take meals in accordance with the chart below.

State law also requires the university to provide rest periods for non-exempt employees who work at least 3.5 hours in a workday. Employees are provided a 15-minute rest break for every four hours or major fraction thereof worked. For purposes of this policy, “major fraction” means any time greater than two hours. For example, if an employee works more than six hours, but no more than 10 hours in a workday, the employee is provided and should take two 15-minute rest breaks (one during the first half of the shift and the second during the second half). If an employee works more than 10 hours but no more than 14 hours in a workday, the employee is provided and should take three 15-minute rest breaks, and so on. Please refer to chart below.

For both meal and rest periods, employees must be relieved of all work duties during the entire period and allowed to leave the work site provided they return at the end of the period. Employees are not expected to remain “on call” during these breaks nor are they expected to be available to respond to messages or monitor telephones, email or other messaging devices. This applies to all non-exempt employees including those in sensitive positions such as security or information technology.

The chart below details both rest and meal period requirements:

Hours of work Meal periods and rest breaks
Less than 3.5 No breaks required
3.5 to 5 One 15-minute paid rest break
More than 5 up to 6 One 15-minute paid rest break and one 30-minute unpaid meal period (unless first meal period is mutually waived as per this policy)
More than 6 up to 10 Two 15-minute paid rest breaks and one 30-minute unpaid meal period
More than 10 up to 12 Three 15-minute paid rest breaks and two 30-minute unpaid meal periods (unless second meal period is mutually waived as per this policy, and first meal period was not waived)
More than 12 up to 14 Three 15-minute paid rest breaks and two 30-minute unpaid meal periods

Employees must accurately record the meal period time out and back in. Employees are required to clock back in and promptly return to work at the end of any meal period. If a meal period is waived, missed or shortened for any reason, this does not entitle an employee to leave work earlier than the end of the employee’s scheduled shift.

Rest periods should be taken as close to the middle of each work period (of four hours or major fraction thereof) as reasonably possible. Employees are paid for all rest break periods and should not clock out/in when taking one. Rest periods may not be accumulated or combined with meal periods.

Special accommodations are made for break times for employees who are nursing mothers. Refer to the Accommodations for Nursing Mothers policy for additional information.

All non-exempt employees must sign the “Meal and Rest Period Obligation Acknowledgment” upon hire. Employees who believe they are not being provided appropriate meal or rest breaks, or being pressured or coerced by any manager or other employee to forego any portion of a provided break, should contact the HR Service Center at (213) 821-8100 immediately.


A non-exempt employee who works more than eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek must receive overtime compensation. Managers must ensure that overtime is approved before it is worked, and that the time is properly recorded. If overtime is worked, but not approved, it nevertheless must be paid but employees who work unauthorized overtime may be subject to disciplinary action.

The overtime rate of 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay is paid for the time worked in excess of eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek. A double time rate of two times the employee’s regular rate of pay is paid for time worked in excess of 12 hours in a workday. In cases where both an overtime rate and a double time rate apply to the same hours, the university pays the higher rate but not both. Overtime pay is required for hours worked on the seventh consecutive day worked in a workweek. Employees are entitled to 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for the first eight hours and the double time rate for all hours worked over eight hours on the seventh day worked in a workweek.

Hours paid but not worked during a day (e.g., sick pay, vacation, holidays) do not count for purposes of determining overtime or double time payments.

For hours worked on a university holiday, full-time employees are paid 7.5 or 8 hours (depending on the employee’s normal workday) of holiday pay and the appropriate pay rate for the actual hours worked.

Hours eligible for overtime compensation differ for non-exempt employees working under an approved alternative work schedule.

Work schedules

Most university offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. An employee’s regular work schedule may differ, depending upon the needs of the department, and may be changed at any time at the department’s discretion provided the employee is given reasonable notice.

The basic workday for timekeeping purposes for work schedules beginning between 12:00 midnight and 12:00 noon is 12:00 midnight through 11:59pm. The basic workday used for timekeeping purposes for work schedules beginning between 12:00 noon and 12:00 midnight is 12:00 noon through 11:59am.

The standard work week used for timekeeping purposes is 12:00am on Thursday through 11:59pm on the following Wednesday if the employee is regularly scheduled to begin work between 12:00 midnight and 12:00 noon, or noon on Thursday through 11:59am on the following Thursday if an employee is regularly scheduled to work beginning between 12:00 noon and 12:00 midnight.

An employee’s work schedule can only be changed biweekly, beginning on the first day of the scheduled biweekly pay period. This compliance with a defined workweek and workday allows for the calculation of daily, weekly, and seventh day overtime and double time.

The normal weekly work period at the university is 37.5 hours. Depending upon their needs, some departments have established a normal weekly work period of 40 hours. Rates of pay are calculated using the normal weekly work period established by the department.

Employees must report to work in accordance with the work schedule established by their department. If an employee is unable to report to work on time, the employee must notify the manager as soon as possible, and/or request leave in accordance with university policy and departmental procedures.

Alternative workweek schedules may be allowed, consistent with legal requirements. Consult with your HR Partner.

Responsible office

Human Resources Administration
(213) 821-8100

Issued by
David Wright
Interim Senior Vice President, Administration