Lunch Punch

We have a policy that states an ee must use the time clock if leaving company property during their lunch period, those not leaving do not have to use the clock but are informed their 30 min lunch period is non-paid. The situation I'm in is that I have observed several ee's leaving the plant during their lunch period that have not been using the time clock. I am in a battle with the Sr. facility manager who does not want to issue discipline to these offenders. He states that our liability is nil as these violators are not on company business. He also believes we cannot catch all of the offenders so how can we discipline only those we catch? My answer back on this was that we cannot catch all who violate a policy but when we do we need to be consistent and issue discipline to the observed offenders.

How would my Forum friends handle this situation? I say that our liability is huge and if one were involved in a catastrophic accident our defense would be none as we are allowing the offenders to continue to abuse the policy. What proof would we have to the court when asked if they were on business or not? I say none, it would be managements word against the surviving family members and I think I know how the judge would rule.


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  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 07-15-04 AT 05:47PM (CST)[/font][br][br]The record keeping provisions of the FLSA don't stipulate that time clocks must be used - simply that the ee's time is recorded.

    Do your ee's write in when they leave and write in when they come back? If it's recorded in some fashion, then I don't think your liability is high here. In fact, I would add the two options (written and punch time) into my policy. However, I agree with you that a policy is a policy as long as everyone knows it's a policy. Maybe what you could suggest as a compromise is a 2-week warning time. Send out a memo, if you can with your role in your organization & state the policy, the fact that it not being followed and give all the opportunity over the next two weeks (or whatever time period you choose) to re-align themselves with the policy or face appropriate written corrective action. I don't think you want to fire folks over this or fan any flames of poor morale, so maybe a compromise can be met...
  • We have some plants that don't punchout for lunch and some that do. I feel better when they do... because if you ever have a complaint and you show you take 30 minutes for each employee's lunch, but the employee says that he was called back to his work station to do things or got caught up and couldn't take a lunch, how can you prove it.
    Also, it seems you have a policy that isn't being followed. I would say either all punch in/out or none. However, I do agree that if someone leaves the premsis they should punch out.
    One of our locations that doesn't punch in/out had an employee who had a heart attach and died while sitting at his work station eating his lunch. Luckily, we had plenty of folks who witnessed him eating his lunch and not working and had a kind family that didn't push it... however, could have been very messy.
    Try to compromise with you manager on this and put it to rest.

    E Wart
  • It's a policy in our handbook and we enforce it on those we catch, which hopefully prevents it from happening with others. If not, we'll catch them eventually.

    From our conference room we can see which employees drive away for lunch. I've gone so far as auditing them to be sure they've punched out.

    Just because you can't catch everybody isn't a good reason to forgive the ones you know are committing the crime.
  • I think what you have is a 'rebuttable presumption' of liability. If one of your employees runs over a line of preschoolers headed to the park while he is on the time clock, then there is 'evidence' ee is on co. business. The co can rebut that evidence though, and if the ee would have no reason to be on co business and off premises (press operator) then I think you avoid trouble. However, even if you escape liability, there will be expense and hassle in the avoidance. Hard to imagine why discipline wouldn't flow for those you know are violating. And your knowledge and failure to act could be a talking pointe for pls lawyer. Not that you can be expected to catch all of them, but if you do, I think it is prudent to take some sort of action.
  • "Sr. facility manager....also believes we cannot catch all of the offenders so how can we discipline only those we catch?"

    Boy! Now there's a concept. If you cannot catch everybody who breaks a rule and violates a policy, then you should discipline anybody. Never heard that form of policy administration. But would that not apply to every policy you have? We have the same policy as your company. Anybody who leaves the grounds, and many do, absolutely must 'swipe out' or discipline applies, same as late or early punch or failing to punch. We have quite a few employees with responsibilities that take them off site during the workday. The policy we have answers the question as to whether they were on duty. We enforce it as seriously as possible, without differentiation as to who might and who might not be possibly considered to be on duty, off-site.

    By the way, Safety, knowing your sense of humor, I was expecting quite different subject matter when I saw the title of your thread. x:D
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