Employee Doesn't turn in timecard, no pay?

I am wondering if there are any legal problems with not paying an employee if they don't turn in their timecard. Can we assume 0 hours since we have no documentation that they worked?

We have a problem with some non-exempt people consistently not turning in their timecards. Our payroll person is extrememly helpful and patient (enabling) and continues to call these people several times reminding them to turn them in. She ends up calling them before and up to the point of transmitting payroll and sometimes has waited to transmit payroll until she gets these timecards.

What I'd like to do is to post a notice letting employees know that we will no longer keep reminding them to turn in their timecards. Timecards are due on Monday by noon. We pay our non-exempt employees according to their documented time worked. If we do not have a timecard, we will record 0 hours worked that pay period and will not cut handchecks (unless the error was ours/managements) and they will have to wait until the following pay period to receive pay for the adjusted hours (with the timecard as documentation). I know we have to pay employees for the time they worked but without documentation can we assume 0 hours worked? Is this legal to do? x:-/

Your suggestions are much appreciated.


  • 7 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Sorry, won't work.. .must pay them if you know they have worked. but DO begin disciplinary action on those who are not timely.
  • Agree with Sonny. You may have a timely payment law in your state which makes it necessary for you to pay for hours worked on a timely basis. That said, I empathize with you. We have a lot of part time employees who are basically doing us a favor by teaching a class, refereeing games, scorekeeping, etc, and they love to accrue their time and come up with a paycheck that's large enough to be worthwhile. We've tried everything, including discipline, and the most useful has been to make the supervisor responsible for getting the timesheets in. If they don't, it's their backside. Unfortunately, the supervisor is the one that we have some control over.
  • In my former life I was in charge of payroll for a 500+ employee organization that encompassed 3 worksites. We had a bi-weekly payroll and I normally had at least one timsheet from each employee and was able to tell quickly who did not turn one in. If it was a payweek and I did not have timesheets in from each employee, I processed payroll for what I did have and if an employee was "shorted", it was made up the following payroll. Of course, this applied to non-exempt employees only.

    I agree with Hunter regarding timely payment but you can only pay for the hours you have. These are (presumably) adults and it will only take once to have a "short" check for the employee to remember to turn their information in in a timely manner. The longer you enable these people to be irresponsible, the longer they will continue to be just that.
  • We used to have that problem too. We first informed the employees that it is their responsibility to turn in timesheets within the specified time. Which is on Monday after the pay period ends on Friday, a reasonable request since they should have been filling the time in daily, it would already be done. Timesheets go to the supervisors first for approval, then on to payroll for processing. This step has put an additional burden on the supervisors to first hound the employee. Payroll does not have to do that anymore. If an employee does not have a completed timesheet, the supervisor will inform payroll and submit a substitute timesheet with the supervisors estimates. The supervisors should know who was out on vacation etc. It does take an employee getting shorted only once for them to become more timely.

    We have looked into changing to an "internet" timecard process. This would mean that employees would have to clock in and out at the proper times, and then supervisors have access to approve the time at the end of the period, and payroll can process. With several offices around the state and all of the processing done in one location, this seems like a good idea, but we are still checking into it.
  • In NJ an employer must pay for all hours worked within the same work week. Therefore if we do not have a time sheet, we pay the employee for the 35 hours we know they worked and make any adjustments later. We are in the fortunate position to know if an employee worked or not, and most of our employees that are hourly do not work overtime. It is best if you at least pay the employee for their regular work week (35 or 40 hours or whatever it is). An adjustment can be made the following pay.
  • Hmmmmm I am probably a lawbreaker then. We are a construction company. Our system requires that we charge (allocate) the time to specific job related phase codes. We do not always know how long some employees work on one job before moving to another with our repair division. We had an employee not turn in a card prior to leaving on vacation and we did not pay him. We did not have his hours and did not know how long he was at each job. We have told the employees they are responsible to turn in their timecard by 9:00 am Monday mornings. No timecard = no pay. I do this as we typically run payroll 1st thing Tuesday morning so there is some time if people are straglers. I no longer hunt them down, just let their supervisor know if we don't have their time card when we run payroll they are out of luck.
    My $0.02 worth.
    DJ The Balloonman

  • Sonny is dead on.

    By law, it's the employers responsiblity that time is recorded and ee's are paid in a timely manner. You'll be setting yourself up, because obviously, all of the managers and supervisors know that they did work.

    However, as Sonny said, you have every right to discipline them.

    What you might want to do (even though it will be a pain for awhile, but in the long term may solve your problem) is to create a policy where the shift supervisor must initial the time card before they punch out each day. Ee's will get tired of making the double-trip.

    My main concern would be the accuracy of the time being turned in..how are they logging their time?
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