One common question that arises when it comes to employee time tracking is whether an employer has the legal right to change employees’ work hours. An employer may want to change punch times to avoid overtime, or perhaps they want to punish the employee for not working to their fullest potential.
There are circumstances under which an employer can change an employees’ work hours. However, they have to have a legitimate reason for doing so. They can’t just change work hours to avoid having to pay a worker or for personal reasons.
As a business owner, there are many employee time tracking labor laws that you need to adhere to to ensure that your business and your employees are protected. Unfortunately, some of these laws are not well defined and can often be left open to interpretation.
In general, you should never change an employee’s hours as a form of punishment or to avoid payment of any type. For example, if an employee works a shift from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but you found that they weren’t productive for two of those hours, you couldn’t punish them by changing their hours to 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Lost profits due to low productivity is not a legitimate reason to change work hours.
Another common reason that employers will change work hours is to avoid overtime pay. There are strict federal and state overtime laws that every business needs to adhere to. Changing an employee’s work hours simply to avoid paying them overtime pay is a significant infraction. Not only can it lead to labor law disputes, but it can also significantly impact employee morale and productivity.
Now that you have a good idea of when it is not okay to change an employee’s work hours, we will dive into when it is legal to make such changes.
Perhaps one of the most common and legal reasons for changing employee work hours is due to user error. If you are using online timesheet software and an employee punches in late, an employer can go in and change their punch in time to reflect accurate work hours. The same goes for punching out; if an employee forgets to clock out for the day and is automatically punched out by the system, an employer can go in and update that information.
Most time tracking solutions come with an audit log that allows you to determine exactly what changes were made and why to employee time. It is essential to make detailed notes when you do adjust the time in the event of an audit. You need to make sure that you can provide accurate details if the Department of Labor comes knocking.
One of the best ways to help reduce the need for having to change employee work hours is by investing in automated employee time tracking software. Such clock in and out software allows employees to access their accounts from any internet-connected device, granting them the flexibility to punch time from any authorized location and at any time. This flexibility will lead to more accurate hours and reduce the need for managerial interference.
If you have employees who frequently forget to punch time or punch in or out late, you can take advantage of alerts and reminders. These alerts and reminders can be set up to let an employee know it’s almost time to punch out for the day or that they need to take a break. Not only will using alerts improve time tracking accuracy, but will reduce the need for micromanaging employees as the employee time tracking system does this automatically for you.
In the end, you should only be making changes to employee work hours under circumstances that actually warrant a change. To nearly eliminate the need for changing exempt employee time tracking information, you can invest in online time clock software that allows employees the flexibility to punch time from any authorized location and any internet-connected device.