Time Tracking

Do I Have to Pay an Employee Who Does Not Submit Their Timesheet?

Andjelka Prvulovic
Last update on:
August 9, 2023 6:05 AM
Published on:

If some of your employees repeatedly ignore your requests to submit their timesheets on time, you know how frustrating it can be when payday arrives, and you lack their hours for the payroll.

So what should you do in such situations? Is a “no timesheet, no pay” acceptable solution? And what kind of consequences for a late timesheet would be appropriate?

Let’s tackle the burning timesheet question while discussing the best ways to improve your timekeeping practices.

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Who Is Responsible for Keeping Track of Hours Worked?

Under the  Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employer is responsible for keeping track of employees’ hours. 

Regarding the method an employer will use for timekeeping, the FLSA sets no requirements. 

The company may choose to have a timekeeper log employees’ hours, use a time clock, or tell their employees to record their own hours in a timesheet. Every method of tracking time is accepted as long as the records are complete and accurate.

To learn more about which data your reports must include, you can check out the FLSA recordkeeping requirements.

Can an Employer Withhold Pay for Hours Worked?

As the employer must keep track of their employee’s working hours and pay them accordingly, a late timesheet is not a valid reason to withhold or delay employees’ pay. 

Nowadays, many companies rely on their employees’ help to improve time tracking and gather accurate and reliable data. If an employee has missed the timesheet deadline, some employers may even argue that they cannot pay them as they don’t know the record of their hours.

But, including staff in the time-tracking process doesn’t transfer the responsibility from the employer to employees. According to legislation, timekeeping remains ultimately the employers’ obligation.  

So, following the FLSA, even when employees have failed to submit their timesheets or keep track of their time, the employer must pay them for hours worked when their paycheck is due. 

If an employee doesn't submit their timesheet or fails to sign or confirm it, ask them and their supervisor to provide or confirm the hours worked and pay them accordingly. You can also use their work schedule to make the necessary payment and clarify any discrepancies later.

While you can not refuse to pay earned wages, you canimprove your employees’ accountability or, if needed, impose disciplinary actions on those who violate your timekeeping requirements.

How Can I Prevent Late Timesheet Submission?

Filling in a spreadsheet to log hours may be a minor task from an employer’s perspective. After all, when done daily, employees can complete their entries in a few minutes. So, from the employers’ angle, the requirement for employees to submit timesheets on time is reasonable and feasible.

But now, let’s take a different perspective. Even a minute of distraction can disrupt other critical or more productive processes for an employee. According to research, getting back into the workflow can sometimes take more than 23 minutes after distraction.

Your employees will often postpone or simply forget to work on their timesheets to be able to focus on their other, more critical duties. And when the submission day is due, it is pretty challenging for them to find time to recall their shifts, their hours, and the activities that took place. 

You can expect a faulty, unreliable, and late timesheet if you still rely on manual  spreadsheets to track time. Instead of putting in place punitive measures for your late employees , you’ll achieve much better results by improving your timekeeping practices and policies.

1. Make It Easy for Your Employees To Keep Track of Their Hours

With approximately 38% of US employees still using paper timesheets and punch cards to record their hours, there is quite a lot companies can do to advance their timekeeping practices.

Unless you already use an up-to-date time-tracking solution, consider it a first step toward streamlining this essential but time-consuming activity. 

So, how can time-tracking tools help you with timesheets?

Punch In & Out

Clocking in or out of work is easy with Timeero. Employees can start and stop tracking their hours from their own mobile devices or personal computers with just a click.

Timeero employee time clock
Timeero Employee Time Clock: Mobile View

Depending on your company’s requirements and needs, employees can punch in for work or clock in for a specific job, even a task. 

If you also need to know whether your employee is on-site when they clock in for their shift, you can use GPS tracking to capture or record of  this information. You can also use the geofencing feature to put an invisible border around a workplace. If employees clock out of these predefined bounds, their timesheet entry will be flagged. 

Timeero Time & Mileage: Admin View
Timeero Employee Time Clock: Desktop View

Employees can set reminders to log their hours, so the chances of forgetting about this task is minimized.

Employee Notification Settings
Employee Notification Settings: Clock In & Out Reminders

To stay compliant, remember to require your employees to record all working time. 

This includes activities out of their usual place of work that they spend completing tasks using technology, such as answering their work phone or responding to emails. 

Your employees must also correctly record unproductive working hours considered compensable, such as time spent on business travel.

Overtime Hours

Time-tracking tools can give you accurate and reliable data on your employees’ overtime for running the payroll. 

In addition to staying compliant with the relevant overtime laws, using such a tool can give you control over your employees’ hours, ensure fair reimbursement and prevent overbilling at the workplace.

Using Timeero, an admin can access the payroll & overtime settings, where they can set the pay rate and other rules related to overtime. As California’s overtime legislation has many specifics, there is also an option to set California Overtime Rule.

Timeero Settings: Payroll and Overtime

To ensure your managers and supervisors can timely approve or deny employees’ extra hours, Timeero can send alerts via emails and push notifications whenever a worker goes overtime.

Timeero Notification Settings: Overtime
Timeero Notification Settings: Overtime

Remember that even if you have a policy that requires employees to get approval before clocking in overtime hours, you can't withhold their pay in case of violation. However, you can follow your procedure and take disciplinary action for an employee's failure to get permission in advance.

In Timeero’s Resource Center, you can find many helpful articles on overtime legislation in California, Florida, New York, Texas, and Illinois. Of course, if you’re running your business in Canada or the UK, we’ve got that covered too.

Time Off Tracking

Whether paid or unpaid, employees' days off  work are essential for employers to keep track of. Legislation regarding vacation and sick leave, the two most common benefits, significantly vary. You must adhere to these requirements and keep proper records to stay compliant.

Using Timeero, you can easily set time off categories for your employees. Once defined, employees can request leave of absence from their app, selecting from preset categories.

Timeero Time Off Request
Time Off Request: Employee Mobile View

Their managers will receive their request for approval right away. Once approved or rejected, the employee will get a notification and an email on the status of their request.

Employee Time Off: Admin View

Time Off: Email Notification
Time Off: Email Notification

Check out our article to learn how to create Employee Vacation & Sick Leave Policy or download a free template.

Using Breaks

Even though the FLSA doesn’t require employers to offer their staff lunch or coffee breaks, state laws, such as California or Illinois, vary and complicate the matters.

Time-tracking apps allow you to keep track of your employees’ paid and unpaid breaks for various purposes - from accurate payroll to improving your employees’ accountability.

 Timeero Break Settings: Admin View
Timeero Break Settings: Admin View

To stay compliant with the California Meal and Rest Break laws, Timeero has developed the California Breaks Tracker - a feature that tracks, records, and verifies employee breaks.

Timeero daily sign off form for california breaks
California Breaks Tracker: Daily Sign-Off Form

Visit our Resources section to learn more about Employee Breaks Policy and download our free template that you can adjust to fit your company's needs.

Time Rounding 

Time tracking tools allow you to track employees’ time to the minute worked. However,  under the FLSA, you can also round your employees’ hours to a maximum of 15 minutes. 

If you opt for a time-rounding policy, you must apply it fairly. This means you will consistently round down time from 1 to 7 minutes and round up time from 8 to 14 minutes. 

When it comes to time rounding, Timeero lets you choose the option that best fits your company’s needs. 

Timeero Time Rounding: Admin View
Timeero Time Rounding: Admin View

2. Create Clear Timesheet Policy

Once you've chosen the app that will fit your time-tracking needs, you're much closer to not only solving the late timesheet issue but also improving timekeeping practices in your company.

Your next step is creating a detailed and thorough timesheet policy. The policy should explain the basic concepts you will use and set your company's requirements regarding timekeeping practices and procedures.

To be effective, timesheet policies usually outline the following:

  • Objective. You start with setting the goal you want to achieve with the timesheet policy. For example, "This timesheet policy aims to develop a standard company procedure for precise payroll and recordkeeping in compliance with relevant federal and local labor laws and regulations.

  • Scope. Next, you define to whom the policy applies, whether it is company-wide or applies to a specific group of employees. For example, companies often have different policies for exempt and non-exempt employees to comply with the FLSA easily.

  • Definitions of Basic Concepts. Next, explain the basic concepts your policy will cover, for example, work hours, workday, overtime, exempt and non-exempt employees, sick and vacation days off, breaks, time rounding, etc.

  • Timesheet Procedures. Focus your policy on explaining the procedures in detail. For example, if you’re creating a policy for employees on hourly wages, explain how your employees will track their hours, clock in and out, log their breaks, ask for time off, request overtime authorization, etc. 

  • Roles and Responsibilities. After you’ve explained the procedures in detail, define your employees’ responsibilities and the roles of supervisors and managers and set deadlines. Your policy should require employees to enter their time daily to prevent late timesheet submissions.   

  • Disciplinary actions. Define fair, appropriate, and progressive disciplinary measures for violations of your timesheet policy. While you can not withhold employees’ wages, you can find other ways to discipline them for failing to follow the procedure, despite all the efforts to coach and train them. These measures may range from verbal or written warnings to suspension or termination.

3. Educate Your Employees On Time Tracking Procedures And Practices

After you've chosen your time-tracking app and created your timesheet policy, you need to ensure all your employees understand the policy's goal, scope, and basic concepts, know their roles and responsibilities, and can perform their timekeeping tasks in practice.

While you can include the policy in the Employee Handbook and have all your employees sign that they've read it and give their consent, we suggest taking a step beyond.

Coach your employees on implementing the policy, and hold onboarding sessions to introduce the new app and features. 

You can also assign a person to answer employee questions regarding timekeeping procedures and onboard any new hires. If employees also have doubts about the time-tracking process, it's always good to know who they can turn to.

To Wrap It Up: Advance And Automate Your Timekeeping

The most efficient way to prevent a late timesheet and other timekeeping issues in your company is by advancing your tracking practices. 

Aim to make time tracking so simple and fast that your employees can finish their tasks without interrupting their workflow.

With Timeero as your time-tracking partner, you will achieve this goal in no time.

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Andjelka Prvulovic

Andjelka is a sociologist turned digital marketer. She specializes in creating content for SaaS and software companies. When she’s not researching the most effective employee management techniques, Andjelka loves cooking, reading, and fighting for human rights.

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