Your employee forgets to sign in – or calls in sick. You decide to adjust their time sheet to reflect this.

But is this legal? Are employers allowed to make adjustments to their employees’ time sheets? What if your employee wrote down incorrect hours –can you tweak this as well?

While falsification of an employee’s time sheet can be a serious offense, it isn’t illegal for a supervisor or employer to change an employee’s time sheet – as long as it reflects the correct hours that were worked and you notify the employee of these changes.

What is illegal, though – is falsifying an employee’s time card data. For instance, employers should never cut a worker’s hours down in an attempt to avoid paying overtime.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some situations when a time sheet can be altered, and the best practices for making changes to ensure that they’re in compliance with the FLSA.

When Can Time Sheets Be Altered?

While many companies may have their employees to track their work hours, the FLSA states that the ultimate responsibility for time tracking –falls to the employer. Because of this, employers are able to change their employees’ time records –as long as they are an accurate reflection of the time that was worked.

However, time sheets should never be altered to reduce the number of hours that were worked. For example, some employees alter time sheets in an attempt to avoid paying overtime. Other times, an employer may try to pressure the employee into submitting false time cards that leave out overtime. Both of these instances, though, are in violation of the law. Wage and hour lawsuits are one of the most common lawsuits –and it’s important to ensure that any and all changes to time cards are accurate.

However, there are times when altering an employee’s time sheet may be necessary. For instance, if an employee forgets to clock in, then an employer is able to manually change the time sheet to ensure the employee is paid. If an employee calls in sick, an employer is also able to adjust the time sheet to reflect this.

How to Change Time Sheets

The FLSA does not require employers to notify their employees or obtain their consent for changes to their time sheeets. However, employers are not able to simply edit an employees time card when they feel like it or to avoid overtime pay.

An employer must have a legitimate reason for making a change such as an employee forgot to punch out or they have sufficient evidence the employee wasn’t working – such as camera evidence. Accordingly to the FLSA, changes to records must include accurate information about the data as well as the the hours worked and the wages earned.

Here’s a look at some ways that you can change time card data while being open –  and upfront with your workers.

  • Documentation – Before changes are made to time sheets, you should ensure that you have proper documentation backing your decision for the alterations. For areas on the time card that you feel could be a mistake –it’s always a good idea to verify with your employee before making any changes.
  • Pre-Approval – As an employer, you might consider prohibiting time sheet changes by supervisors unless pre-approved by you. This will give you a chance to verify any changes to ensure that they are accurate.
  • Recorded – Finally, it’s recommended that you take a copy of the time sheet before you edit it. Keeping the unedited version can be helpful in the event that your employee doesn’t agree with your adjustments.

When changes are made to a time sheet, it’s always a good idea to keep both the original record, and the modified copy. Or, show a line through the error on the original record, along with the correction, as well as both you and your employee’s signatures and the date next to the correction.

Many automated tools to keep track of employee attendance have features that track not only workers’ time, but any changes that are made to time card data –as well as the person that made them. These systems can often be set to obtain acknowledgment from both you and the employee should the need for any changes arise.

Remember: timekeeping is your responsibility. Whether you choose to have your employees track their time manually or if you keep track for them –it’s important to maintain clear and accurate records to ensure that you’re in compliance with the law.

While the above information is intended to inform and to educate –it is not to be taken as legal counsel.  Please consult an attorney for more information regarding employment regulations and FLSA law.