Timekeeping for non-exempt employees

Employees must comply with the university Wage and Hour policy to ensure USC meets the requirements of all wage and hour laws.

Non-exempt employees are protected by a complex set of regulations concerning hours worked, rest and meal periods, overtime and work schedules. USC also provides generous vacation and sick time as well as other leaves that must be accurately calculated and fairly administered for all employees. Workday Time Tracking helps us meet all those requirements. For help with tracking your time in Workday, visit the Workday Help website (you will need to log in with your USC NetID).

Note that some departments at USC use alternative time tracking systems. Your manager will notify you of what system to use upon hire.

Student workers, most of whom are non-exempt, 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.

Clocking in and out

Regardless of system used, as a non-exempt employee you must accurately and honestly clock all time worked. This means you must use your assigned timekeeping system to punch in and out in real time. You may not pre-populate a timesheet, even if your timekeeping system allows this. Managers are instructed to reject pre-populated timesheets. Generally, you should not be using your personal mobile device to clock in or out unless you are traveling on business or otherwise engaged in work activities away from your normal workspace.

Note that your timesheet must be approved by both you and your manager, and submitted on time for each biweekly pay period. Delays in submitting time may result in delayed payment.

If your manager believes your timesheet is not accurate, your manager may reject or modify it and will discuss with you any disputed modification. If you and your manager cannot agree on the modification, contact your department’s HR Partner, HR Payroll Analyst or the HR Service Center for information about how to settle such disputes.

Timekeeping violations may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. These violations include, but are not limited to, falsification of timekeeping records; unauthorized overtime; failure to abide by departmental timekeeping procedures; failure to submit timesheets by established deadlines.

Clock all your time worked

Working “off the clock” is strictly prohibited. The university pays for all hours worked. You should not be working before you clock in or after you clock out. USC values your work/life balance and does not believe work should intrude on your personal time. Your manager should not pressure you to work any unpaid time (if this happens, contact your HR Partner), but you should not choose to work any unpaid time either, including:

  • “Just finishing up” at the end of the day
  • “Volunteering” to work on something
  • Working unpaid time due to budget concerns
  • Working unpaid time due to feeling that you should have finished earlier
  • Responding to work emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. during off hours
  • “Donning and doffing”

All such time must be recorded.

If you find yourself in a pattern of needing/wanting to work extra hours, talk to your manager about your workload, or your HR Partner.

Your manager may not ask you to “adjust” your timesheet unless there’s been a legitimate mistake in the time recorded that must be corrected.

Some positions may require hours to be worked outside of regular working hours. Your manager should discuss this with you beforehand and clearly explain the time involved and the duties required during that time. Examples of this might include positions responsible for monitoring and/or responding to social media over a weekend, or positions responsible for responding to information requests in the evening hours. All such “off time” work must be recorded.

Other than positions requiring off-time work as outlined in the above paragraph, you should not work in your off-time. This includes responding to work emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. You are not required to respond until your next scheduled shift, even if you see these messages during your off-time. USC discourages you from checking work email when you’re scheduled to be off duty, but if you do, your time must be recorded accordingly.

Clocking in and business travel

For university business-related travel (business meetings, conferences, student recruiting activities, athletic or fundraising events, etc.), non-exempt employees should clock all time from when they leave home until they return home, with the following exceptions:

  • Sleeping
  • Eating (not business-related meals or meals consumed during travel)
  • Recreation or personal pursuits (not business-related)

Meal and rest periods

You are entitled to meal and rest periods as per the Wage and Hour policy. The university encourages you to take these breaks away from work to help alleviate burnout and promote wellbeing.

If you are required to attend a business lunch meeting, you are entitled to take a half hour uninterrupted, unpaid and off-duty “meal break” consistent with the Wage and Hour policy.

You must notify your manager or HR representative immediately if you believe you are not being provided with required meal and rest periods as per the Wage and Hour policy.


You should regularly discuss your current workload and any deadlines that may require overtime with your manager. Generally, overtime should be assigned by the department head to meet essential operating needs. If a manager or other superior asks you to work after your shift is over, alert the superior that overtime may be needed. You must always ensure that overtime is approved before you take it. All overtime worked will be compensated, whether approved or not – but overtime that was not approved could result in disciplinary action against you.

Using time off

All employees are encouraged to use their vacation time, as well as sick time when needed, but in both cases must notify their manager as far in advance as possible. Managers are urged to accommodate vacation requests and will generally do so, but may deny vacation requests in order to meet the business needs of the department or to avoid adverse effects on co-workers. Refer to Vacation and Sick Time policies.