Generally, non-exempt employees are paid hourly. We recommend instructing non-exempt employees to track all their time worked and prohibit working off the clock. Churches may use any timekeeping method they choose as long as it’s accurate and capturing all the required information (see below). For example, you may use a time clock, have a timekeeper keep track of employee’s work hours, or tell their workers to write their own times on the records. Any timekeeping plan is acceptable as long as it is complete and accurate. If you want to prohibit working after hours, you may; if you do so, however, you still have to pay nonexempt employees for time they worked and, if they work overtime, time and a half for overtime. Your recourse would be to discipline for working unauthorized hours/overtime.  

Every church must keep certain records for each non-exempt employee. The law requires no particular form for the records but does require that the records include certain information about the employee and about the hours worked and wages earned. The law requires this information to be accurate. It is highly recommended for employees to log their ‘time in’ and ‘time out’ to ensure that you are accurately capturing all hours worked. Non-exempt employees should be compensated for all hours worked, whether they have been approved for overtime or not. The following is a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain regarding timekeeping and wages:

  • Time and day of week the workweek begins
  • Hours worked each day
  • Total hours worked each workweek
  • Basis on which employee’s wages are paid (e.g., “$9 per hour”, “$440 a week”, “piecework”)
  • Regular hourly pay rate
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings
  • Total overtime earnings
  • All additions to or deductions from wages
  • Total wages paid each pay period
  • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

Here are sample policies covering timekeeping and off-the-clock work for your consideration.

Off-the-Clock Work

Non-exempt employees must accurately record all time worked, regardless of when and where the work is performed. Off-the-clock work (doing work that is not reported in the timekeeping system) is prohibited. No member of management may request, require, or authorize non-exempt employees to perform work without compensation. Any possible violations should be reported promptly to a member of management.  


All non-exempt employees are required to use the timekeeping system to record their hours worked. For the purpose of this policy, all forms of timekeeping will be referred to as clocking in or out.

Employees should clock in no sooner than five minutes before their scheduled shift and clock out no later than five minutes after their scheduled shift. Additionally, employees are required to clock in and out for their designated lunch periods. The length of the lunch period will be designated by the employee’s manager; alteration or wavier of the lunch period requires manager approval. Lunch periods are unpaid time when employees are relieved of all duties. Waiver of the lunch period requires prior approval of the employee’s manager. Under no circumstance may the waiver of the lunch period result in overtime work.

Accurate timekeeping is a federal and state wage and hour requirement, and employees are required to comply. Failing to enter time into the timekeeping system in an accurate and timely manner is unacceptable job performance. Employees may not ask another employee to clock in or out for them. Should an employee miss an entry into the timekeeping system, they must notify their manager as soon possible for correction. 

Non-exempt employees are not permitted to work unscheduled time without prior authorization from their manager. This includes clocking in early, clocking out late, or working through scheduled break or lunch periods.

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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