HR Hotline: Can Employers Edit Time Card Entries?
Q: My employees don’t always punch in and out at the times that they actually begin and end their work, and they sometimes fail to punch in at all.
What is an employer’s responsibility to adjust (and pay) employees for time that they supposedly worked, when their time clock punches are incomplete, inaccurate, or missing for an entire day?
A: It is ultimately an employer’s legal responsibility to keep “true and accurate records” of the hours worked by, and the wages paid to, each employee.
More specifically, Connecticut wage and hour regulations require that employers maintain “accurate, legible records” that show an employee’s:
- total daily and total weekly hours worked, including the beginning and ending time of each work period, computed to the nearest unit of 15 minutes;
- total hourly, daily, or weekly basic wage;
- overtime wages as a separate item from basic wages;
- additions to or deductions from wages each pay period; and
- total wages paid each pay period.
Employers must pay wages that correspond to time card entries, and must maintain records of beginning and ending work periods, whether that’s through a time clock, employee call-ins of hours, or an employee’s handwritten records.
Thus, an employer may not simply ignore missing entries and pay wages based on an assumption of certain hours worked.
In addition, if an employer believes an employee’s time card has inaccurate entries, the employer may not unilaterally make changes.
The Connecticut Department of Labor will only accept edits to timecards—whether cross-outs or notations of different time entries—if initialed by the employee.
The same rule applies to “fill-ins” of missing time card punches; an employer may not write-in missing entries unless the employee initials the entry.
For example, if an employee leaves work at 5 pm but fails to punch out, the employer may later write in the 5 pm entry, but must get the employee’s initials on that entry to confirm its accuracy.
If the employer and employee cannot agree on a time, the employer must collect as much evidence as possible (witness statements, surveillance video, etc.) to corroborate the time that it ultimately enters, with the understanding that a labor department investigator may or may not find that evidence to be credible.
This recordkeeping burden emphasizes how important it is that supervisors ensure employees punch in and out regularly, and that employers immediately take action when time cards are missing information.
Employers can discipline employees for failing to comply with the company’s timecard rules, but cannot refuse to pay employees for time worked, as documented by time entries.
DOL investigator Dora Senkow explained more about an employer’s duty to keep accurate time records during CBIA’s 2022 HR Conference.
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