Correcting Time-Clock Errors
If a timecard or time-sheet method of reporting is used, employees should be required to sign the documents to confirm that they worked the hours posted. Also, their signature confirms that the time reported is correct. Signatures and recorded times should be written in pen.
Employers may not change anything on a timecard. If something is incorrect or missing, a change may be made by the employer or employee and must be accompanied by the employee's signature. One of the most common timecard errors occurs when an employee forgets to clock in before they start working, or leaves for the day without clocking out. They may also clock out for their meal break, but forget to clock back in, thus causing incorrect time to be reported for the entire day. When this happens, the employee should write a manual correction on the timecard and sign it.
An employee's timekeeping record is a legal document and should be treated with extreme care. Under no circumstances should one employee be allowed to punch in or out for another. Failure to comply may be grounds for discipline, usually in the case of a verbal warning for the first offense. This policy should be included in your employee handbook.
When an employee takes an off-the-clock meal break but forgets to clock out, employers may not deduct the time from the employee's pay without a proper adjustment to the timecard by the employee. If the employee doesn't take a break, her pay cannot be deducted for the time that she should have taken off. The same rule applies to employees who record their time manually on a time sheet. Workers who are continually careless with their timecards or time sheets or do not abide by the requirements to take an off-the-clock meal break are subject to progressive discipline to correct the problem. Timekeeping documents are legal records and should be treated seriously.
Time off the clock for mandatory meal breaks can cause headaches because some employees don't want to take them. They would rather earn the extra thirty minutes of pay, which can be over two hours per week for a full-time employee. They may want to work through the break and go home thirty minutes early. However, meal breaks, or the lack of meal breaks, are not subject to the approval of the company; it is federal law that employers comply.