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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Just recently a couple ex employees have turned me into the

Customer Question

Just recently a couple ex employees have turned me into the labor board saying i owe them for hours worked. Im not to worried because they clock in on our POS system and it shows the days and times they actually clocked in/out.
My question is can i adjust their clock in/out times when they forget to clock in/out. I also have had a staff meeting just becuase of this situation. where we talked about how i am going to go by what their schedule says to clock out if they forget to and dont fill out a adjustment form in a timely manner. CAN I LEGALLY DO THIS.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.
If an employee truly forgets to clock out, it is lawful to adjust the employee's time card so that they are not paid for time they did not actually work. However, you should have very clear documentation of why you're making the adjustment. For example, you may wish to have security cameras recording when employees come and go so you can go back to the tapes to prove they actually left. You would also be prudent to send the employee an email explaining that you are making the adjustment because they forgot to clock out and citing the exact time they actually left. Proof is very important here because when an employer starts adjusting timecards, it is very easy for the employee to try to argue that they are being shorted for hours actually worked. The Labor Board is very employee friendly and so without proof that the adjustments are legitimate, you risk being hit with a claim for unpaid hours.
Now, an adjustment because an employee forgot to clock out is very different than adjusting simply because the hours on the timecard don't reflect the schedule. An employer CANNOT adjust hours simply because the schedule says something different. What controls is the hours the employee actually WORKED, regardless of whether those hours are fully represented on the schedule. So, while you technically could adjust time cards if the employee legitimately went home and stopped working but forgot to clock out, you can't adjust timecards simply because their schedule reflects fewer hours than what they are claiming. If they worked the time, they are entitled to be paid for it regardless of what their schedule says.
Lastly, if you have a problem with employees "forgetting" to clock out, you are free to implement disicpline up to and including termination. There is a fine line between "forgetting" to clock out and timecard fraud that is separated only by intent. Timecard fraud is a very serious issue that raises serious issues of trust with an employee. This is something you may wish to consider as you proceed forward.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

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