FAQs About Missed Employee Time Punches

Missed Punches

Almost every employer has been faced with trying to solve the eternal puzzle of how to correct missed employee time punches and what to do about them. Whether employees forget to clock in at the start or to clock out at the end of their shift or fail to punch out for lunches, appointments or other periods of unpaid time, keeping an accurate record of it all including an audit trail of any required adjustments can be a nightmare. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about this frustrating occurrence:

Can’t I just dock the employees pay?

That’s a big, NO! According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you must pay the employee for all time worked. Even if they employee forgot to clock in for a portion of that time, you are still required to pay them for it and must keep an accurate record of those hours.

Is there another way to take corrective action for missed punches?

Yes. You can have a written policy in your employee handbook that addresses this type of infraction, including escalating forms of discipline (e.g. three missed punches gets a verbal warning, four is a written warning, five is a day off without pay and any more can be up to and including termination). If you do institute such a system, you must enforce it consistently for all employees.

Then how do I figure out the actual time worked?

You can use things such as a time stamp for when the employee logged into his/her computer or started up a specific piece of machinery or even a standard start time for when that employee typically starts work. The FLSA does not require you to track insignificant amounts of time. For example, pay does not have to start right when an employee comes in the door if he/she typically goes into the break room for coffee or socializes with other employees before sitting down to work. (Note: There may be exceptions, though, for things such as on call pay or if your own policy calls for pay for emergency type workers that starts when they receive a call to respond). Once you have verified the approximate time for when the employee actually started working, you will need to note the exception on the timecard and have the employee sign it. Employers are also permitted to utilize rounding of time (e.g. if an employee clocks in 5 minutes before a shift start or 5 minutes after, it rounds to the shift start time. The theory is that this will be a wash over an extended amount of time).

Are there other ways to make this process not so cumbersome?

Yes. With an automated system like CheckmateHCM’s Time and Attendance solution, managers, shift supervisors, HR and/or other authorized individuals can receive alerts when an employee does not clock in for a scheduled shift and/or fails to clock out. We also provide Attestation that prompts employees to acknowledge whether or not he/she took a break that day, took lunch and confirming that the hours shown for that day on the time record are accurate. It also provides exception tracking with the required audit trail for both the person editing the time as well as the employee’s acknowledgement of the appropriate correction.

Anything else we should try?

CheckmateHCM Solutions also offers a variety of time clocks. By placing one at each point of entry for your office, you can help to reduce some of the problems with forgetting to clock in particularly if you utilize some of our time clocks that also function as access control. If you also have concerns with Buddy Punching (a co-worker punching in for another employee who is cheating the system), you can implement biometric time clocks. If you have field workers or others who work offsite, our software also works on mobile devices allows employees to securely clock in and out from their phones, tablets and other connected devices.

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