Missed Punches on the Time Clock

Our non-exempt employees (located in WA state) punch in and out on the time clock. Often, one or more employees will forget to clock in or out in a given pay period. The company's owner wants me to implement a policy stating that if an employee neglects to punch in or out for a shift, they will not be paid for that shift.

I have advised him that we are obligated to pay an employee for the shift, if we know they were at work. We are a small enough company that the supervisors would be aware of whether or not an employee was at work, although they might not know exactly what time an employee punched in or out. The owner insists that a friend had such a policy and was able to defend it in court.

Any "war stories" that might help me convince him (or prove me wrong)?


  • 13 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Failing to clock in is a failure to follow company procedures and therefore a disciplinary issue. If you dock an employee's pay when he/she has actually worked you are seriously asking for trouble. FSLA specifically requires employers to pay employees for anytime they 'suffered' the employee to work, including unauthorized overtime if the company knew about it.

    BTW, I think you will find this subject has come up before if you do a search.

    Good luck!
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 05-07-03 AT 04:17PM (CST)[/font][p]If they are working, you gotta pay them. If they are not clocking then as NaeNae said, it is a disciplinary issue and it should be addressed as such.

    Or you could implement the policy and then let HIM defend it in court when the time comes! :)

  • It happens enough. California requires a 1/2 hr lunch, so if an employee
    forgets to clock in or out for lunch - we assume that a 30 minute lunch is taken,and pay accordingly. No one has complained .

  • Ah, but Chari, you know what happens when we assume. Our assumption is exactly what got us into trouble and we ended up paying back wages over our assumption that employees were taking their lunch hours! Aside from that agree with the others. Pay them, discipline them.
  • Ah, but the supervisors are telling me every day WHICH employees ARE taking lunch. We have the employees sign the weekly time sheets, so they do have every opportunity to review or complain before payroll is prepared.

  • I ran into the same problem with a former employer and we implemented a "failure to punch" as part of the attendance policy. If an employee failed to punch, they received 1/2 occurrence and it was added to their attendance record. When requested, we also made a copy of the time card to show the ee. Regarding the pay issue, you must pay an employee for the hours worked so implementing a policy like the owner wants would only cause alot of problems. Address this problem in a disciplinary manner.
  • We had this same problem. I implemented a miss punch rule. If you miss a punch either in/out and this error was YOUR mistake the ee would receive the hours on the next check. If the error was payrolls the ee would receive the money that day. after the ee missed a whole shift on their check and was told they were not going to receive the money until next payroll the forgotten or missed punches have almost disappeared.

    Hope this helps.
  • If an employee misses the clock punch you still must pay them for hours worked BUT IT CAN BE AT THE MINIMUM WAGE of $5.15 hour. Then I would follow up on discipline if it occurs often.
  • I agree with Vickilw. We had the same policy at my last employer. It worked great. You do have to pay the employee and they do get paid, but on the next check if it is THEIR fault. I have not been allowed to implement such a policy at my current employer and what happens is the supervisors are running around on the day their payroll info is due trying to fill out missed punch forms. Takes up a lot of their time and drives me crazy.
  • Most everything relevant has been said except this: Either your boss' friend who said he successfully defended the 'no pay policy' in court was not telling the truth, or your boss was not. Take your pick.
  • Good one Don D! I don't believe it for a minute either.
  • If they forget to punch in/out, but you know they worked, you must pay them. I would suggest you have a written policy on disciplinary measures that will be taken if someone "forgets to punch in/out." Sometimes this is a convenient ploy used by employees who are late, but don't want to fess up to it. According to FLSA, you must pay them if you know they worked or permitted them to work; however, discipline if policy is not followed should be administered. If employees know that you follow through with your policies, they will comply.
  • You can't not pay them for an entire week (there was another threat where someone asked if you could withhold their entire paycheck for a week), however, you can hold the hours until the next pay period, and it's perfectly legal. You do not have to cut them a manual check.

    Your boss is definately wrong. You have to pay them for the time work if you know about it. It's a disciplinary issue.
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