Can an Employer Withhold Pay for a Late Timesheet?
No, employers can’t withhold pay for a late timesheet. With or without accurate records, an employer must compensate employees for their working hours when the pay period is due.
Let’s delve deeper into the matter.
Many companies rely on their employees for time tracking. If an employee misses the timesheet deadline, some employers may even argue that they cannot pay them as they don’t know the record of their hours.
But, the truth is - including staff in the time-tracking process doesn’t transfer the responsibility from the employer to employees. According to legislation, timekeeping is ultimately the employers’ obligation.
So, following the FLSA, even when employees have failed to submit their completed timesheets, the employer must pay them for hours worked when their paycheck is due. As employers must keep track of their employees' working hours and pay them accordingly, a late timesheet is not a valid reason to withhold or delay their pay.
We’ll tackle the relevant legislation in more detail in a bit.
How Can I Prevent Late Timesheet Submission?
To prevent late timesheet submission, you must get to the very bottom of the problem.
In fact, filling in a spreadsheet to log hours and submit timely timesheets may be a minor task from an employer’s view. After all, when done daily, it can be finished in a few minutes.
But from the employee’s perspective, even a minute of distraction can disrupt other critical or more productive processes. According to research, getting back into the workflow can sometimes take more than 23 minutes after distraction.
The reasons for late timesheets may lie in forgetfulness, technical issues, misunderstanding of the process, or simply - the mix of it all.
If the time tracking method is not plain simple and hassle-free, your team members will often postpone working on their timesheets so that they can focus on their more productive tasks. And after a while, they will find it hard to recall their shifts, hours, and activities.
So, if you still rely on manual spreadsheets to track time, you shouldn’t be surprised with faulty, unreliable, and late timesheets.
Instead of putting in place punitive measures, you’ll achieve better results by improving your timekeeping system, practices, and policies.
Here is how you can overcome this issue.
Make It Easy for Your Employees To Keep Track of Their Hours
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, such as Timeero, help you with time records?
Clock In & Out
Logging the working hours is easy with Timeero. Your employees can start and stop tracking their time from their own mobile devices or personal computers with just a click.
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 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 this information.
You can also use the geofencing feature to put an invisible border around a workplace. When an employee arrives at the workplace, the app can send them a reminder to clock in or remind them to clock out once they leave. If employees clock out of these predefined bounds, their timesheet entry will be flagged.
Employees can also set reminders to log their hours to minimize the chances of forgetting about this task.
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.
It’s a good practice for employers to keep precise time records for all employees, regardless of their status. This way, they can avoid potential legal issues and disputes while ensuring employees are compensated fairly for their work.
PRO TIP: Even though tracking employees’ working hours is mandated for hourly employees, you would also want to have accurate time records for your non-exempt salaried employees. This way, you can adhere to statutory requirements, such as minimum wage or overtime requirements.
Time-tracking tools can give accurate and reliable employee overtime data for calculating overtime pay.
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.
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.
But, 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.
Timeero’s Resource Center has 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.
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.
Even though the FLSA doesn’t require employers to offer their staff lunch or coffee breaks, state laws, such as California or Illinois, vary. This can complicate timekeeping for both the employees and employers.
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.
Visit our Resources section to learn more about the Employee Breaks Policy and download our free template that you can adjust to fit your company’s needs.
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.
Pro tip: If you’re an employer in California, never time-round your employers’ breaks. It would be best to avoid time-rounding in California regarding all timekeeping practices until the Supreme Court has made its final ruling.
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:
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.
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: work hours, workday, workweek, overtime, exempt and non-exempt employees, sick and vacation days off, breaks, time rounding, etc.
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.
How Do You Handle Late Timesheets?
Employers should have a backup plan for such situations and include it in their policies. This could involve estimating the number of hours worked based on a regular work schedule or asking the employee or supervisor to recall their hours.
Once the actual hours are confirmed, they can clarify any discrepancies and make necessary adjustments in the next pay period. While you can not refuse to pay earned wages, you can improve your employees’ accountability or, if needed, impose disciplinary actions on those who violate your timekeeping requirements.
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.
So, who should be responsible for late timesheets?
Everyone involved in the timekeeping process has a role to play in ensuring employee timesheets are submitted and processed in a timely manner.
The employee is primarily responsible for submitting their timesheets on time.
The manager or supervisor should ensure their team members submit their time cards promptly and accurately.
The HR department or payroll team should make the process clear and easy for employees and address any issues that might cause delays.
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.
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, knowing who they can turn to is always good.
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. The federal law sets no requirements regarding the method an employer will use for timekeeping.
The company may have a timekeeper log employees’ hours, use a time clock, or tell their employees to record their hours in a timesheet. Every method of tracking time is accepted as long as the records are complete and accurate.
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.