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HR Insights with Ali: Timesheets and Overtime, What You Need to Know

Posted on 7/26/2017 by Ali Oromchian, Esq.
Unapproved overtime is a problem for employers across the country. Each solution starts with the same sound premise: Employers must follow employment law when it comes to timesheets and paying an employee for overtime hours worked.

One hard and fast rule is that employers may never manipulate a timesheet, such as to show that the employee did not work overtime when they actually did. An employer may change a timesheet, but only when it is done to reflect the actual hours worked. So, if an employee clocks out but then is required to continue working but for some reason cannot clock back in (such as if there is a problem with the timeclock), an employer may update the timesheet to reflect the actual hours worked. But a timesheet can never be manipulated to show fewer hours than what the employee actually worked, even if the employee consents to the change.

Also note that an employee must be paid for overtime hours worked even if you did not approve the overtime. That means that if you instruct an employee not to work overtime hours and she does so anyway, that employee would still be entitled to that overtime pay despite having violated your policies. Therefore, the solution to this problem would be to treat it as a policy violation and to implement progressive discipline. You cannot, however, change the timesheet to show that the employee only worked the approved hours, or refuse to pay the employee for those hours worked.

When it comes to unapproved overtime, it should be treated as any other violation of your policies. By following the law, paying for hours worked, and never manipulating employee timesheets, you can help to protect yourself from adding a wage dispute to your existing problems. If you have a clear overtime policy in place, follow it to the letter and pay your employees for all hours worked, then you can minimize your unapproved overtime issues.


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