Do Employees Need to Sign Off on Time Cards?

While the Fair Labor Standards Act says that employers must keep records of all hours their employees work, it does not prescribe a specific timekeeping system or method. From that standpoint, the key is to choose a process that works for you and your company—as long as the information is complete and correct.

For most companies, this involves some system of sign off before they submit an employee’s time card to payroll.

How to Implement a Sign-Off Process for Employee Time Cards

“There are number of ways you can implement a sign-off process,” says Adrian Pop, Regional Sales Manager with nettime solutions and stratustime. “And a lot of it depends on what type of time & attendance system you’re using.”

In some cases, such as a manual system, employees and managers might manually sign off on a paper timesheet with a signature. With an automated system, rather than a signature, the sign off is assumed through a confirmation screen that asks the employee whether the listed hours are correct, and requires them to check a box to affirm it.

“The bottom line is, where timesheets are concerned, the burden is on the employer to make sure time is tracked accurately,” Pop says.

For instance, if an employee forgets to hand in his or her timesheet, or doesn’t sign off on it, the employer must still legally pay the employee on the established payday. In order to do so, a manager can get stuck guessing based on the schedule, or backtracking through calendars. Whatever approach they take, being inaccurate can mean paying someone for time they didn’t work, or inadvertently not paying them overtime pay that wasn’t tracked.

No Sign-Off on a Time Card is Not Grounds for Withholding an Employee Paycheck

“Either way, you cannot withhold a paycheck on the grounds that you didn’t receive a timesheet,” adds Pop.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are responsible for maintaining records.

For Paula Schubel, HR lead with a West Coast based importer and distributor, timesheets were part of a long list of concerns she had when she examined her company’s previous time & attendance software.

“With our old system, there were a number of gaps that were putting us at risk,” she says. “The system wasn’t tracking anything—not meals, breaks, or overtime.”

A signature process seemed time-consuming and messy for management, so she began to look deeper into the time & attendance options on the market.

The right time & attendance software can help you avoid paying damages under federal and state laws, such as back pay, attorney’s fees, and penalties. Our recent case study, “Clock In on Compliance,” discusses ways that stratustime helps avoid and solve compliance issues.

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So how can an employer manage the task of maintaining accurate time records?

State and federal laws require that employers keep their own records of work hours. In a situation where an employee forgets to submit his or her timesheet, the company can reference their own documentation to process payroll.

“Of course, this can become time consuming, especially if it’s habitual,” says Pop.

How stratustime Helps with Time Card Sign-Offs

Toward this end, stratustime provides a number of ways that can help administrators make sure time cards are completed before payroll is submitted, including:

  • Alerts to management when time cards are missing punches
  • Automated emails that can be sent to employees when it’s time to confirm time card data
  • Internal email system for record keeping and easy communication between employees and payroll staff
  • The ability to create customized approval messaging within the program
  • Alerts to payroll department when it’s time to submit payroll

For Paula Schubel, the new time card sign-off process has been going great.

“With stratustime, we customized the program so that, at the end of the pay period, our employees approve and sign off on their time cards. Then payroll gets submitted. They literally check a box that states they agree that they took their breaks, and did everything in a compliant fashion.

“It’s exactly what we needed,” she continues. “It makes everything super easy for us at the end of a pay period. And it’s also extremely organized. There are no hard copies to deal with. Everything is in the stratustime system.”

Beyond the software, Pop suggests that employers should discuss the importance of handing in correct timesheets with their employees.

“No matter how you configure your time & attendance software, there will always be humans involved,” Pop says.

“Managers have to be sure they don’t ignore a discrepancy between an employee’s actual hours, and the hours that the employee might sign off on. It’s important that they review timesheets, and talk with employees if they feel something’s off. Having a system that keeps accurate records will help these conversations.”

Does your time & attendance software make it easy for employees to complete and sign off on their timesheets, and give you peace of mind where wage and hour compliance is concerned? Discover how stratustime can help you protect your company down the road. Give us a call today. We’ll put stratustime on the clock for you.

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