Five Tips for Compliance: Recording Hours Worked

The U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance about tracking time for remote work, and here are the tips for compliance:

  • Create clear and easy rules for tracking time at home. Any timekeeping system should be easy for employees to use, allowing them to clock in and out several times a day. Timesheets can be used if there is not a sufficient system available.
  • Explain when to clock in and clock out. Employees and managers need to understand clearly that start and stop times need to be tracked, and that time off of a half hour or more is not paid, but breaks – typically 15 minutes or less – must be paid.  If employees are taking too many breaks, discuss this with them immediately.
  • All hours must be recorded – repeat this over and over. Employers have paid thousands and thousands of dollars in fees and fines when employees fail to record hours worked. Employees sometimes believe they are doing the company a favor, and it must be very clear that they are not. This may require some mild discipline to enforce.  It is not unusual for the employee who wanted to do some free work for their employer one day to expect money for that work at a later point in time.
  • Employees very clever about hiding work hours should not keep you up at night. While it is an employers’ job to make sure all hours worked are recorded and paid, if it is impossible to know that an employee is working – in a famous case from years ago, an employee hid his work in his attic at home – the employer is not required to pay for these hours.  Following steps one through three should help to create an atmosphere where all hours worked are recorded.
  • Hold managers accountable for insisting on accurate time and do not incent managers to curtail hours. Managers’ actions have caused untold liability for employers.  Managers want to stay on budget either to receive accolades or incentives and have changed employees’ time cards and ordered employees to work off the clock.  At some point, this will come to light; the employer will either be ordered to pay back wages and liquidated damages or will be sued to recover this amount.  Holding managers accountable for a record of accurate hours worked will ensure that time accounting is accurate.

If you need help with recording hours worked, give us a call – we can help!