Monitoring employee hours, approving time sheets, and overseeing adjustments is an important function in personnel management, and timecard fraud is a concern managers sometimes face. When an employee reports more hours than were actually worked, though, employers should be careful not to alter the timecard.
According to a recent court ruling, Chao v. SelfPride, No. 06-1203, 4th Cir., and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), supervisors have personal liability for altering pay records if it's to the disadvantage of the employee. This means that the supervisor can be directly sued by the employee(s). Companies should therefore eliminate any practice of altering time sheets or showing tolerance or encouragement of off-the-clock work.
Tips to avoid wage litigation
- Hold employees accountable for their time management.
Remember, if the employee is not managing his/her time well and it is resulting in overtime, then it's a discipline matter; not a pay issue.
- Prohibit off-the clock work by non-exempt workers.
Remember that non-exempt workers checking work emails from their phones and taking phone calls after hours is compensable time. Establish rules on work conducted via electronic communication devices after hours for your hourly employees.
- Provide employees with uninterrupted lunch breaks.
Even if the employee voluntarily answers the phone during the lunch hour, by law, the employee must be paid for that time.
- Never auto-deduct time for lunch.
Make employees responsible for recording their own time for any break that exceeds 20 minutes in duration.
Nextep's HR Department is able to provide guidance and clarification on your wage and hour related questions. Contact us at 888-811-5150 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the FLSA.