Wage and Hour

1. Policy

Issued: 02/15/2019
Edited: 01/22/2021

2. Policy Purpose

This document provides a general outline of the University’s policies regarding compensation, timekeeping, rest and meal period requirements, overtime pay and work schedules. 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. For USC employees based outside of the state of California, the University would adhere to those states’ laws and regulations.

3. Scope and Application

In the event of a difference between this policy and a collective bargaining agreement, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement govern.

4. Definitions

TermDefinition
Exempt employeeExempt employees are paid an established monthly salary and are expected to fulfill the duties of their positions regardless of the number of hours worked. Exempt employees are not eligible to receive overtime compensation or compensatory time off in lieu of overtime compensation. 
Non-exempt employeeNon-exempt employees are paid an hourly rate 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.

5. Policy Details

Compensation

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 depending on the number of hours worked. All staff positions are classified as non-exempt unless the job duties they perform 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.

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 wage and hour 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.

USC strictly prohibits “off-the-clock” work.  Non-exempt employees must record all of their time worked.  In addition, managers must ensure that all time worked by the employees they supervise is recorded, and that they do not work (and are not pressured to work) any time that is not recorded. See the Manager Gateway timekeeping page for details.

For remote employees (virtual or out-of-state), these timekeeping policies apply as stated, as of the policy revision date. The University reserves the right to review and amend this policy at any time.

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 by the end of the 5th hour of work. Employees who work no more than 6 hours in a day may voluntarily agree to waive provision of their meal period if the supervisor agrees to allow such a waiver. Non-exempt employees who work more than 10 hours in a day are entitled to a second 30-minute meal period.  Employees who work more than 10 hours but not more than 12 hours in a work day may voluntarily agree to waive this second meal period if the first meal period was not waived.  Different meal period waiver rules apply to some non-exempt Keck Medicine of USC employees.  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.

  • Non-exempt employees at Keck Medicine of USC are provided 10-minute rest breaks, except:
  • Nurses represented by CNA are provided 15-minute rest breaks
  • All other non-exempt employees are provided 15-minute rest breaks

Employees are provided a 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 premises of the work site provided they timely return to work at the end of the period. In other words, if an employee chooses to leave the premises, he or she must still return to work by the end of his or her 10-minute rest period or 30-minute meal 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 workMeal periods and rest breaks
Less than 3.5No breaks required
3.5 to 5One 15-minute paid rest break
More than 5 up to 6One 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 10Two 15-minute paid rest breaks and one 30-minute unpaid meal period
More than 10 up to 12Three 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 14Three 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 Lactation Accommodation 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.

Overtime

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 will 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.

For certain non-exempt employees at Keck Medicine of USC, a work period of 14 consecutive days is accepted in lieu of the work week of seven consecutive days for purposes of overtime computation and if, for any employment over 80 hours in a 14-day period, the employee is compensated at not less than 1.5 times the regular pay rate.

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.

Basic workday for timekeeping purposes:

  • for work schedules beginning between 12:00 midnight and 12:00 noon: 12:00 midnight through 11:59pm
  • for work schedules beginning between 12:00 noon and 12:00 midnight: 12:00 noon through 11:59am
  • for non-exempt staff at Keck Medicine of USC: 12:00 midnight through 11:59pm.

Standard work week for timekeeping purposes:

  • if employee is regularly scheduled to begin work between 12:00 midnight and 12:00 noon: 12:00am on Thursday through 11:59pm on the following Wednesday
  • if employee is regularly scheduled to begin work between 12:00 noon and 12:00 midnight: noon on Thursday through 11:59am on the following Thursday
  • if employee is non-exempt staff at Keck Medicine of USC: 12:00am on Sunday through 11:59pm on the following Saturday

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.

6. Procedures

N/A

7. Forms

N/A

8. Responsibilities

POSITION or OFFICERESPONSIBILITIES
HR Service CenterHuman Resources Administration/HR Partner1. Required meal and rest periods2. Any changes to work schedules, overtime status or HR classification 

9. Related Information

N/A

10. Contacts

Please direct any questions regarding this policy to:

OFFICEPHONEEMAIL
Human Resources Administration(213) 821-8100 uschr@usc.edu

11. Revision History

Originally Issued: 2/15/2019
Revised: 1/22/2021

12. Policy URL

The policy will be listed at policy.usc.edu. This link may be shared in community messages and on the We are SC website.