Timesheet Recordkeeping and the DOL

Timesheets are so tedious. Why do I even have to do them?

As a PEO, StaffScapes depends on accurate timesheets from their clients to ensure an accurate payroll.  Timesheets should be a fundamental and important aspect of every company that has hourly employees.  The DOL (Department of Labor) requires every FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) covered employer to keep records for every non exempt workers, including hours worked and wages earned.  While keeping track of hours worked may be a tedious task for the employee or employer, it protects both against fraudulent hours, unpaid hours, and can even minimize the chances of a DOL audit.

The timesheet protects the employee by verifying the hours worked and guaranteeing compensation for the hours worked.  All hourly employees should sign their timesheets, verifying the hours on the timesheet are correct.  This can help prevent mistakes such as not getting the right pay, missed overtime hours, etc.

Timesheets also protect the employer.  If an employee signs a timesheet and is paid accordingly, it can help prevent DOL claims and unhappy employees. 

For example, Company X always assumes its hours for its hourly employees.  Every week, they pay their full-time employees the standard 40 hours.  Marty works at Company X and thinks this is great. He can take a 2 hour lunch or come in late and not make up his time because he knows the company isn’t keeping track, and he will always get paid for 40 hours.  Sandra also works for Company X and is not too happy.  She clocks in an average of 5 overtime hours and is never compensated.  Sandra is fed up and decides to go to the DOL and files a claim against Company X for unpaid wages. Company X has no way to prove that Sandra didn’t work those overtime hours, but they also don’t have a way to prove she did.  Because the burden of proof is on the employer to prove the employee did not work the hours claimed, without time keeping records, the DOL will usually charge the employer for the amount of unpaid wages.  If the employer is unable to prove the hours and refuses payment, it can open them up to a DOL audit. 

The best way to encourage employees to fill out timesheets is stressing that it is for their protection and never making exceptions.  For example, employees should be tracking their time every day they go to work, not just for special projects, or when they have a deadline to complete something.  Making it a known policy and everyday task makes employees more willing to comply and complete their timesheets regularly.  Saving both the company and employee time and hassle just in case something goes wrong.

By T.Redding Payroll Specialist

See Also

  • Recordkeeping and Reporting
    Every employer covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must keep certain records for each covered, nonexempt worker.