At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2013, people all across the United States set their clocks forward one hour to start Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time (DST) is intended to place more sunlight into “daytime” hours in order to seemingly stretch the day longer and conserve energy. 2013 marks the seventh year DST was expanded by four weeks pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. For many, the change simply means one less hour of sleep, but for employers, the time change has unique and important implications.
While most organizations have developed protocols for dealing with the technological requirements of the time shift, such as adjusting the time in their computer systems, voice mail, and time clocks, many employers may not be prepared for the other impacts of the time change caused by the start of DST.
Pay for Employees Working at 2 a.m. on March 10, 2013
An employee that is not “exempt” from the overtime requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act must be paid for all time worked. Generally, time worked is defined as time that an employee is “suffered or permitted to work” (See, e.g., Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 203 (g); 29 C.F.R.§ 785). “Non-exempt” employees working the midnight, third, or graveyard shift on Sunday, March 10, 2013 did not work from 2–3 a.m., and absent a policy or a provision of a collective bargaining agreement providing otherwise, an employer is not obligated to pay an employee for that hour. If an employer does voluntarily pay employees for this hour, it may credit this payment toward any overtime compensation that is required. Conversely, employees who work this shift in November at the end of DST work an additional hour for which the employee must be compensated.
Increase in Workplace Injuries
According to the National Sleep Foundation, it will take most people a few days to adjust to the loss of one hour of sleep. According to a study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2009, on the Monday following the advance of one hour on the clock, employees lose an average of 40 minutes of sleep. According to researchers, workplace injuries increase by 5.7 percent on the Monday following an advance. Further, the injuries that occur on the Monday following the “Spring Forward” of clocks are much more severe, resulting in 67.6 percent more work days lost than injuries on other days.
Awareness of the increased safety risk may help employees exercise additional caution and avoid potentially dangerous accidents and injuries.