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Clock In Issues

Our time clock is at the front of the building. Our employee parking is around back. Recently, some employees have noticed that people are pulling up to the front of the building in their cars, running inside to clock in, getting back in their cars, and driving around back to park. Because of this, even though they are clocking in “on time” they don’t actually return to their work stations for at least 5-10 minutes at times. Not only this, but it’s also become a concern due to people and/cars are almost being hit by cars speeding in or speeding away. 1) Can we dock their time for this if they’re caught hanging out in the break room or parking lot even though they’re clocked, and 2) besides disciple actions, do you have an example of a policy that could be used to implement the change? What’s the best way to handle this?

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

Under the FLSA, employers must keep certain records including hours worked and wages for each non-exempt employee. Furthermore, employees must receive at least the applicable minimum wage for each hour worked and overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a given workweek.

Employers are not required to pay employees for time not actually worked or periods of time considered insignificant. If an employee clocks in and then leaves to park their car or get coffee and absolutely no work is being performed, then the time need not be counted as hours worked. However, if the employee performs any work related duties during the time, he must be compensated.

If you decide not to pay an employee for the time in question, make sure you have proof (i.e. witness or security video) of the employee not working and you document it in the employee’s file. You don’t want the employee filing a wage claim for the unpaid time and you having no evidence to support your claim that he wasn’t working.

Since deducting from employees’ pay may increase the risk of a wage claim and simply be inconvenient, consider first adopting a policy prohibiting employees from clocking in then leaving.

If you already have a time keeping policy then consider adding: “All employees are required to clock in/out upon arrival/departure from work. Employees are expected to clock in as scheduled and be prepared to start work. Non-exempt employees who clock in and then leave the worksite for any non-work related reason may be subject to time not worked being deducted from their pay. Failure to follow the time clock policy may result in disciplinary action.”

Now, if you don’t have any time and attendance policies, here is a sample provided by SHRM:

Once you’ve written or amended your policy, make sure all employees are aware of the changes. Post the new policy at the time clock, distribute it through all media (i.e. email, mail, newsletter), and discuss it in staff meetings.

Many employers allow their employees to get coffee after clocking in. Doing so usually takes less than 5 minutes and in most cases doesn’t affect the employee’s work duties. But, clocking in then leaving to park a car around the building is very different. The employee is clearly doing this to avoid clocking in late. He/she is probably rushing causing a safety hazard, as you mention. This behavior is unacceptable. If there are a select number of individuals doing this then they each should be talked to about it. But, if it has become a widespread practice then it must be specifically addressed when distributing the new policy. Consider adding a memo to the policy discussing this situation specifically. Mention the safety concerns and be clear that the practice violates the time keeping policy.

Usually, informing employees that a certain behavior will no longer be acceptable is enough to end it. Disciplining employees for violations will let them know you’re serious about the new policy and insubordination will not be tolerated.


This entry was posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2016 at 2:23 pm and is filed under
Attendance Management.
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