You opened your practice to care for animals, not manage paperwork. There isn't a single veterinary practice that enjoys managing their employee's paperwork and timesheets. It is cumbersome, labor-intensive, and can go wrong if mishandled. Of course, it is still one of the most important things you can do. Your employees deserve to be paid for their hard work, and your business deserves the protection that comes with fairly and appropriately compensating your employees. To do that, you need a reliable payroll system and appropriate payroll risk management controls.
The payroll risks and controls you enact are vital to protecting your veterinary practice. Engaging in illegal activities when it comes to your payroll can backfire in a big way, and ultimately hurt you much worse than any bite to the forearm from a scared dog.
This is particularly the case if you manually adjust your employee's timesheets. While there are circumstances where this is legally acceptable and appropriate, it is illegal and can lead to huge problems in your veterinary practice.
Adjusting Employees’ Timesheets is Illegal!
This is hugely important: Payroll risk management means protecting the accuracy of your employee's timesheet. Altering the timesheet without the employee's consent and notification is illegal. Making an edit without consent and appropriate documentation results in inaccurate reporting. This is a falsification of a timesheet entry - and it's illegal.
From a payroll risk management standpoint, it is always best to have employees in your veterinary practice make their own timesheet edits. Doing so can reduce the chances that they will dispute their hours of work, and lead you to a costly, expensive, and embarrassing legal dispute. This also helps demonstrate the importance of setting up appropriate payroll risks and controls, as it can set procedures for when and how a timesheet can be edited.
Fortunately, with the right software - like HR for Health - this is an easy process to manage.
Your Team Will Lose Trust in You
If you get caught inappropriately editing your employee's timesheet, there is no doubt that your employees will lose faith in your ability to pay them a fair wage and this may prompt them to question other things in your veterinary practice. Veterinary practices across the country are already struggling with staffing shortages, so this is the last thing that your practice can afford.
This isn't to say that you should never edit timesheets - there are circumstances where it may be appropriate - but you have to keep the communication lines open. If an edit must be made, make sure to communicate it clearly with the employee in question. You should also document the reason for the edit, the previous entry, and the edit made to the entry with a reason for the edit.
This point emphasizes the importance of having a reliable payroll system, and one that appropriately minimizes all risks. You should also have a cloud-based file system. HR for Health can offer such a system that easily updates employees' files.
What is the Penalty of Falsifying Timesheets?
Wage and Hour laws are considered the "low hanging fruit" by government officials. Employees are also - rightfully - protective of their rights to be paid for what they work. As such, you could face substantial penalties and fines for falsifying timesheets. The time, money and effort involved, even in cases where you win in court, are simply not worth it.
What To Do If An Employee Timesheet Was Improperly Altered?
Transparency and documentation are key here. If an employee timesheet was improperly altered in your veterinary practice, you should:
- Ensure your employee is appropriately compensated for the time they worked.
- Explain to the employee what happened, what went wrong, and what steps you are taking in the future to mitigate payroll risk management.
- Document all conversations and edits in an employee's file. With HR for Health’s software you can house these documents securely in the cloud.
Situations Where You Can Adjust An Employee's Timesheet
There are circumstances in which it is appropriate to adjust an employee's timesheet in your veterinary practice. These include:
- If an employee neglects to clock out.
- If time-off has been misclassified.
- If starting or ending time was inappropriately taken.
Time can never be reduced as punishment or because of financial circumstances. It is typically better if an employee requests the hours be adjusted, rather than having those edits come straight from an employer. If an employee's timesheet is edited without their consent, the information needs to be documented, along with all evidence that shows the need to edit the timesheet. You should also communicate this with your employee and obtain their written authorization for the edit.
What You Need to Know
Editing an employee's timesheet without their consent is almost never acceptable, but there are limited circumstances in which this may need to happen. It is your responsibility to create a reliable payroll system, in which payroll risks and controls are appropriately created and protected.
From a proactive perspective, you should document the procedures in which an employee's timesheet can be altered in your employee handbook, then stick to those procedures. Doing so can help protect you from a legal perspective.
How HR for Health Can Help
HR for Health's timekeeping makes it easy to keep accurate timekeeping records. Even if an edit is needed, employees can make those edits themselves, because each edit triggers a notification to the authorized user so that they can either approve or deny the edit request. Employees can also note why they made that edit.
In addition to hours worked, our software can track things like leaves of absence, multiple rates of pay, bonuses, and holiday pay. This can be customized to your veterinary practice and make sure that your employees are fairly compensated for the time they spend with all animals. All of this can help you control payroll risk management and ensure that you have a reliable payroll system.
Want more information on how HR for Health can help you create appropriate payroll risks and controls? Contact HR for Health today to schedule a free demo, and let HR for Health help teach you how to manage your payroll risks.