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Ask Leslie: What Do I Do About Time Clock Buddy-Punching?

Dear Leslie:

We recently confirmed that some employees have been punching the clock as a favor for others who are running late or for others who want to leave a few minutes early. How can we best manage this situation?

Signed: Kelly

Dear Kelly:

The employees who clock in or out for others are committing fraud and are undermining your obligation as an employer to keep accurate time records. This could subject you to potential wage and hour and/or tax liability, so it is important to manage the situation. In addition, when employees are allowed to flaunt any workplace policy, it tends to lead to a slippery slope of disrespect for, and violation of, additional policies.

Retrain your employees on your time-keeping procedures. Make sure they understand that if they do this kind of a "favor" for a coworker, both of them will be subject to discipline and could be terminated. Whether your organization keeps time with a punch clock or a computer app, the time must accurately reflect actual hours worked. If an hourly employee had a friend clock in for him or her on time, but the employee does not show up to work until an hour later, you do not have to pay that employee for the hour that was not spent working. Keep all pertinent documentation.

Set the integrity and behavior bar high with your own conduct. You may not be required to clock in or out as a manager or business owner, but your promptness, availability at work, and your adherence to other workplace policies should set the example for all employees to follow.

Jack McCalmon and Leslie Zieren are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon or Leslie Zieren to consider for this column, please submit it to ask@mccalmon.com. Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.

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