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The Conversation: Modern time clocks make it easier than ever to nickel-and-dime workers

Jara Neal Willis, a nurse at a hospital in Texas, usually clocked in a few minutes before the start of her shift and stayed late whenever her patients needed help. Her lunch breaks were often cut short by requests from doctors, patients or their families.

Willis and her colleagues, however, claimed they were not paid for those extra few minutes worked before and after their shifts. Or for working during lunch breaks.

It wasn’t because of mischievous gremlins falsifying their time cards in a backroom, but settings in the software the hospital used to track comings and goings. Two features alone, “rounding” and “automatic break deductions,” could result in the loss of up to 44 minutes a day — or $1,382 a year at the federal minimum wage.

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