If you’re the person who oversees employee time reporting an pay, read on!  Do you realize if you sign off on alterations to the hours reported by an employee you can be held personally liable?  The company you work for can also be held liable, but your personal assets can be up for grabs, too! Yikes! It’s smart business to  take employee time reporting and pay seriously.

The Fair Labor Standards Act allows employees to sue their bosses, executives and HR professionals for personal liability for altering pay records.  Because of this, make sure supervisors don’t accept off-the-clock work or time record alterations. The U.S. Department of Labor receives a very high number of complaints about employees forced to work through breaks, and these complaints often result in investigations.

When an employee is on an-paid break, he/she must be free from all work duties.  That’s good reason to have a break room where employees can eat their lunches completely away from their desks/work stations.  You put yourself and your company at risk when you don’t pay an employee for all time worked, including for those “breaks” where the employee actually still assumes some job responsibilities (such as answering the phone).

Employees who worked at a group home as “living assistants” were recently awarded $500,000 – which the court held the CEO personally liable for. He and the company were ordered to pay the damages, including a $155,000 penalty.  This was the result of time sheets indicating the workers were given two 4-hour breaks during 48 hour weekend shifts, when, in fact, they had to check on each resident every two hours. Eight hours were deducted from their time sheets which the CEO signed off on.   (Chao v. SelfPride, No 06-1203, 4th Cir.)

These days, via technological advances, the matter of time keeping is automated in most businesses. This isn’t just an efficiency best practice, it’s actually a smart way to protect yourself legally. If employees work the time, they should be paid the time. Those who choose to shirk “doing the right thing”, expose themselves, and the company they work for to punitive damages. As we say around here, “There’s never a wrong time, to do the right thing”

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