Posted on November 14, 2018

How to Prevent Time Theft in the Workplace

Employee time theft is an issue that continues to be a thorn in the side for many employers. A few minutes here, a few minutes there. Surely, it’s not that big of a deal, right? With more employees accessing the internet than ever before and with a growing mobile workforce, time theft is getting even more challenging to prevent. But when you examine the impact time theft can have on overall productivity and the bottom line, it’s no wonder more employers are cracking down and increasing enforcement.

Time Theft is Costly

  • A Robert Half study found that the average employee steals roughly 4.5 hours from their employer each week.
  • The American Payroll Association reported that upwards of 75% of companies lose money from buddy punching each year.
  • The American Society of Employers estimates that 20% of every dollar earned by US companies is lost to employee time theft.

What is Time Theft?

Stealing time at work occurs when the employee receives pay from an employer for work that they have not actually done, or for time that they have not actually worked.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say your employee Henry makes $14 per hour. On his time sheet, Henry arrives at 9:00 AM and leaves at 5:00 PM. But really, he arrives at 9:05 AM and leaves at 4:45 PM. What’s 20 minutes? Twenty minutes a day adds up to 100 minutes a week. And 100 minutes a week equals more than 85 hours a year. All in, those lost 20 minutes per day mean you’re paying Henry more than $1,300 a year for work he isn’t doing. Employees can steal time in many ways. Some examples include:

  • Taking longer-than-scheduled breaks
  • Rounding up on their time sheets
  • Checking social media during work hours
  • Making personal phone calls
  • Excessive socializing with co-workers
  • Buddy punching – when one employee clocks in for another

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Tips to Prevent Time Theft

Set Proper Expectations

To prevent time theft, employers should establish clear policies and communicate them to employees via a company handbook. It’s never safe to assume that employees know how to conduct themselves on the job. Instead, it’s up to the employer to explicitly state expectations regarding break periods, cell phone usage and clocking in and out each day. The company handbook should also include the disciplinary actions an employer can take against an employee for falsifying a time card, taking extended breaks or spending time on sites like Facebook or Twitter during work hours. Finally, be sure that each employee reviews and signs a copy of the handbook. This will provide employers with proof of acknowledgement in the event an employee challenges any discipline taken against them.

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Utilize a Time Solution

Paper time sheets are the simplest way for employees to steal time. For supervisors with multiple employees, it’s challenging to know the exact time each direct report arrives and departs each day. And it’s even more difficult to manage when working with remote employees. That’s why employers of all sizes rely on time and attendance software to carefully monitor hours worked. These solutions allow employers direct insight into hours worked and receive alerts if employees forget to clock in or out.

Some time and attendance solutions even offer biometric time clocks that read employee fingerprints or handprints to prevent buddy punching. Some solutions even offer IP address restrictions so employees can only clock in and out from a location determined by the employer. Why is this important? We’ve seen instances where employees clock in at home before leaving for work. Depending on the length of the commute, the employer could be paying the individual nearly an hour’s worth of work that was actually spent in the car.

Interested in a Reliable Time Tracking Solution?

Paycor’s Time and attendance solutions allows you to monitor and control labor costs through automated and accurate timekeeping processes. Proactive alerts and messages instantly notify users and administrators of any errors or discrepancies to avoid compliance issues or incorrect time cards. And with Paycor’s mobile punching feature, employers can set precise location maps to ensure employers are clocking in and out in or near the desired work location. Click here to learn more.