If you have been around in the working world, especially in a manufacturing or restaurant position, you are familiar with a timecard and punch a time clock. You show up to work, insert your time card, and it gets punched with a time stamp. Those timecards were the basis on which you got paid as a nonexempt employee. As the nature of work and the nature of technology have changed, so has the activity of “punching in” to record time.
Nature of work
As we have moved from blue-collar positions to white-collar office positions many companies removed the time clock and adopted the honor system of filling out a time sheet. Other companies moved to put a time system in that was connected to logging into a computer. The success of these changes depended upon the methods used and the honesty of the employees.
According to an article in HR Dive, the changes in technology can be problematic. Accordingly:
There have been lawsuits challenging these systems, however, as technology allows employers to move to a computer-based system, moving time clocks from the door to an employee’s computer, for example. The lawsuits focus on the unpaid time between arriving and clocking in.
The changes in technology also have required changes in policies and procedures that many companies fail to change. Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s labor and employment department, quoted in HR Dive said “the fact that technologically-advanced timekeeping systems more accurately can track non-exempt punch-ins and punch-outs, means that an employer might need to reconsider its ’rounding’ policies that were previously based on the premise that it was administratively difficult to accurately track employees’ time.”
Technology also makes it easier for managers to make changes, which may lead to unintentional errors or purposeful violations of the FLSA.
As you make technology changes to record time, remember that the FLSA requires accurate recording of time worked by nonexempt employees. Make sure you have a system that allows for this accurate recording of time, even when employees are working remotely. Have policies in place that explain and enforce proper recording of time. This will help you avoid errors that may result in costly adjustments at year end.