You are here:

Employment Law/Changing employee punch in/out times electronically


We have recently instituted an electronic time and attendance system. The issue we have is that some employees arrive early to work and punch as the time clock is at the entrance. Some arrive as early as 30 minutes before their shift.  The employee then will head to the break room until their shift is ready to start.  When their start time comes they then begin their shift.  Since the time clock system only rounds to 6 min intervals this early punch in creates extra time to the employees calculated hours (ie punching in at 6:12am and out at 3:00pm gives them 8.3 hours instead of 8.0 hours). The supervisors are then being instructed to change the employee's punch in time from 6:12a to 6:30a to "fix" these extra hours that are calculated.  We are also asked to change the punch out time on the back end as well if the employee punches out a little late.  An alternative method for changing the hours would be to change the calculated hours (8.3) to the actual hours worked (8.0).  In either case the employee has to approve their time that is shown at the end of the week. My question; is changing the actual punch in/out time the legal and correct thing to do?     Thanks.

It is illegal to change time card punches. That is called time card fixing and it is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards act.

The more appropriate action would be to tell the employees either you arrive when it is time to work or you come back and check in your timecard when you are ready to work. The employee should not check in until they are ready to work.

This is the reason that we have them check in and out on their computers which then populates our time system. The time clock will work but they must use it correctly. If they do work past their time and they are allowed to do so they must be paid for the extra time. You cannot fix their timesheet for the time they were supposed to work.

They can be disciplined for working past their time, but they must be paid if they work early, late or theough lunch. It is the law. If they are not working they should not be punched in.

Just think if the Department of Labor pulled an inspection and asked to see your timecards how it would look to them to see all the changes on them. Do you think they would believe that the employee was in the breakroom or that the employer was attempting to not pay overtime?


Employment Law

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Shirley McAllister, CPP, PHR


I can answer questions about payroll laws and payroll tax laws and Human Resource laws and agencies. I can answer federal payroll and human resource law questions and most states; I do not have a knowledge of the local taxes for cities and counties within the state. If and when I can I will try and send you the website where you can reference the answer and where you can obtain more information as well as a contact number if needed for that particular agency. Some agencies I have worked with are IRS, Department of Labor (federal and state), Revenue Canada (and provincial governments), Inland Revenue, OSHA (0ccupational Safety and Health Administration); Social Security Administration and National Child Support as well as other agencies in Payroll and Human Resources. Some Laws I am particularly familiar with are FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act ) , QDRO's, QMCSO's, and other support orders and garnishments, USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act,PPA Act (Pension Protection Act of 2006, As well as most other employment type acts. I am also well versed in the Title V Civil Rights Act and the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).


30 years in Payroll and Human Resources

SHRM (Society of Human Resources) APA (American Payroll Association) DOLEA (Department of Labor Employers Association) CPA (Canadian Payroll Association) NAPW (National Association of Professional Women) The Mentoring Network

PHR Certification in Human Resources CPP Certification in Payroll in U.S. Payroll Administrator and Payroll Supervisor certification in Canada

©2016 All rights reserved.