Time Sheet Deceit

Anita,

I had someone tell me that her immediate boss did not feel like the HR director was paying her the wage he felt she deserved due to years of experience, so he told her to claim extra time on her time cards and was not required to work it. I and one other person were told this by the person claiming the extra time. Is this fraud?

200151700-001Dear “Raised Eyebrows,”

Smells like fraud to me. This supervisor overstating and approving hours as a plot to grant a de facto raise is a sort of vigilante justice that is unhealthy for the company, both for ethical reasons as well as bottom line considerations.

According to SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, one of the most common lawsuits is the wage and hour suit in which employees claim employers did not pay them for all the hours worked and/or overtime. It’s less common for hourly employees and their supervisors to be prosecuted by employers for falsification of time sheets, unless the swindled amount is significant. Several years ago, eight employees of a government contractor pleaded guilty to felony time card fraud. Many times, however, dismissal of the offending employees without a good reference is as far as companies will go, especially smaller businesses who don’t have the resources for costly litigation.

What you and your coworker do with this inside information is up to you. Since the HR manager is one of the alleged offenders, that typical avenue of recourse is not an option. You’d have to go over the HR director’s head to report your suspicion of time card fraud, including as much detailed substantiation as possible. If this is an offense against a private sector employer rather than a government agency, the Whistleblower Protection Act won’t shield you from any backlash from the suspect HR manager. If your company has an anonymous tip line, this would be a time to use it.

One of the ways for a company to monitor timecard falsification is to require manager approval. If a manager is complicit, as in this situation, implementing a time clock, card scanner, or computerized log-in system or installing surveillance cameras may be a necessary investment to prevent future loss from unearned wage scams.

Readers: Have you ever been in a situation in which you become aware that a coworker was falsifying his or her time? How did you handle it?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jim Holtman
    May 23, 2016 @ 08:15:10

    This is one thing my company sees as unforgivable as well; performance can potentially be fixed but ethical changes generally don’t happen over a couple weeks. The damage could include loss of the current or future contract work and needs to be stopped as soon as possible.

    Reply

  2. David Barrigher
    May 17, 2016 @ 10:00:33

    As a supervisor, I have had several employees terminated for falsifying timesheets. It is theft from the company and other team members

    Reply

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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