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I work from home for a call center at a massive company in California. Being in the call center environment every second is logged on our phone system. We don’t have much down time aside from the 9 minutes a day we can use as “personal” time. It often happens that when an agent loses power or has technical issues we are expected to take pictures/screenshot the problem. We then take that information and have to email it to our supervisors along with a minute by minute explanation of why we weren’t working during that time. If we don’t it’s strongly hinted that we could be disciplined for clocking out without reason or notice.

Today, about 15 minutes before I was set to clock out, I lost power for a brief moment. Despite the brevity of it my computer did shut down. I called into the front desk which we are expected to do for these instances and let them know what was going on and that I was working to get logged back into all servers/programs. I was advised to log back into the phone system and aux to “systems” to email my superiors and carry out the mentioned documentation process for the lost time.

Time line: lost power at 4:30 called/got everything back up and running 4:43 officially logged back in 4:46 emails sent/documentation finished 5:01.

I then had to call back the front desk and let them know I was over my clock out time and that I would be logging/clocking out immediately. To which the agent informed me that had they known I was going to take over time they would have released me from my shift when I lost power and they would just send an email on my behalf. It was made apparent that they thought I was scheming to get overtime and that the situation has to be handled by the department manager now.

A few questions

  1. I am paid hourly and am full time. Could I be sent home 15 minutes early and not lose any pay? Like the agent suggested.

  2. If we are encouraged to document any mishaps lest we be disciplined, did I have the right to log into my station and make any overtime for following that process?

  3. I repeatedly stated that I did not care about overtime pay and just wanted to make sure I submitted the appropriate documentation. I was told that because I was not actively taking calls at the time that I would not be getting overtime pay and may be penalized for the infraction. Is that legal for them to do?

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    You live and are working in California, right?
    – user6726
    Sep 13, 2022 at 4:41
  • When were you supposed to leave? at 5:00? Would they really care about one minute of overtime!?
    – PMF
    Sep 13, 2022 at 7:14
  • @PMF I read it as 4:45 being planned clock out, so 15 min overtime.
    – quarague
    Sep 13, 2022 at 8:06
  • I don't know about Californian work laws, but in most of Europe, this type of by-minute employee control would be illegal to begin with.
    – PMF
    Sep 13, 2022 at 9:43
  • @PMF Don't lawyers usually charge their clients in 5-10 minute intervals? Is that not a thing in Europe? Of course, the OP isn't a lawyer.
    – nick012000
    Sep 13, 2022 at 11:02

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