Wage theft is a serious issue affecting employees of large and small businesses. There are several ways employers can steal wages from their hardworking employees.
Some of the more obvious methods of wage theft include:
- Denial of overtime pay
- Minimum wage violations
- Failure to receive a final paycheck
- Time shaving
In this article, We Stop Wage Theft will explore the practice of time shaving, the methods employers use to alter your timekeeping records, and—most importantly—what you can do about it if you suspect you are the victim of this illegal practice.
What Is Time Shaving?
Time shaving is a form of wage theft. It is the practice of altering an employee’s time records so that it reports fewer hours than what they actually worked. Employees are only paid for the remaining amount of time when payday comes.
Though the amount employers steal in any one instance might be small, this illegal practice can cost employees thousands of dollars if it goes unchallenged.
Time Shaving, Overtime, and Minimum Wage
Time shaving not only denies employees of compensation for the hours they worked, but it can also result in minimum wage and overtime violations. Some employers will engage in time shaving if the total hours worked would obligate them to pay overtime wages. In other cases, time shaving results in pay that is below state or federal mandated minimum wages.
Your Employer Must Pay You for All Time Worked
If you’re classified as a non-exempt employee (i.e., any position paid by the hour) you must be paid for all time worked. This is true if you are asked to work through your lunch break, come in early to “set up,” or stay late to close up. All of this is compensable time your employer must pay you for.
The legislation that guarantees your right to be paid for all hours worked is called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
What Does the FLSA Say About Time Shaving?
By engaging in time shaving, your employer is likely violating several provisions of the FLSA. However, the most blatant violation would be the legal requirement of keeping accurate records for all non-exempt employees.
According to the FLSA, employers must keep accurate records detailing the following information for all non-exempt employees:
- Employee’s full name, social security number, and legal address (including zip code)
- Time and day of the week when the employee’s work week starts.
- How many hours the employee worked each day.
- The total cumulative hours the employee worked each workweek.
- A description of how an employee’s wages are paid—”$10 per hour”, “$600 a week”
- Regular hourly pay rate.
- Cumulative daily or weekly straight-time pay for the workweek
- Cumulative overtime pay for the workweek
- Any additions or deductions applied to the employee’s wages.
- Cumulative wages earned every pay period.
- The pay date and pay period of each paycheck
Thus, if your employer is not keeping accurate records about the hours you’ve worked and the pay you’ve earned, they are in violation of the FLSA.
Time Shaving Is Wage Theft
Let’s look at the ways employers might shave an employee’s hours.
Having You Work “Off The Clock”
When an employer asks a non-exempt employee to work “off the clock” it violates the FLSA. Examples of working “off the clock” include:
- Being asked to come in pre-shift or stay late post-shift for any reason
- Being asked to work through your lunch break or other breaks
- Being asked to work outside of your regularly scheduled time
Falsifying Payrolls and Altering Timesheets
Under the FLSA, your employer must keep accurate and complete records regarding the hours you worked, your wages, and other important information about your employment. If they alter your timesheets or falsify payroll to avoid paying you for all the hours you worked, then they have violated the federal wage and hour laws.
Not Paying Overtime Wages
Sometimes, time shaving results in an employee not receiving overtime pay because their employer deleted overtime hours from their timecard. Remember, not accurately reporting the time an employee worked is a violation of the FLSA.
Whether an employee must be paid overtime pay for working over 40 hours a week depends on how they are classified. If you want to learn more about this illegal practice, check out We Stop Wage Theft’s article on misclassification.
Exempt Employees and Overtime
Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime under the FLSA if they make more than $684 per week. If they make less than this amount, which comes out to around $35,568 a year, the US Department of Labor has ruled that they are eligible for overtime.
Non-exempt Employees and Overtime
Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime (time and a half their regular rate) for any hours worked over 40 per week. This applies even if an employee works just a few minutes over 40 hours per week. If your employer is shaving even small amounts of time from your timecard to prevent you from receiving overtime, then they are in violation of federal law.
What Should You Do if You Suspect Your Employer Is Time Shaving?
So, what should you do if you suspect you are the victim of time shaving? We Stop Wage Theft recommends the following actions:
Document All Correspondences With Your Employer
Make sure you keep records of all communications between you and your employer. Having detailed records of texts, emails, and phone calls will help strengthen your case if you need to confront your employer or wish to take legal action.
Keep All Timesheets and Pay Stubs
Keep all relevant information and documents regarding your hours and your pay. In addition to the timecards or time sheets provided by your employer or their time tracking system, you should keep your own records of when and how long you worked. Any discrepancies between the two might indicate that you are the victim of wage theft.
Speak With HR About Discrepancies in Pay
Before taking legal action, you should speak to your HR department to determine if the pay discrepancy resulted from human error. HR departments may be able to resolve the issue if it was the result of an honest mistake. However, if your employer engages in illegal time shaving, it is unlikely they will help you. You may have to use this information if you take legal recourse, which is why it’s essential to keep records of your communications.
Find an Employment Lawyer
If you’ve exhausted other options and still believe that you have had time shaved off of your timecard, it’s time to take legal action. Consult with an employment lawyer for advice about your legal rights. It may be in your best interest to team you up with fellow employees and bring a class action lawsuit to reclaim stolen wages.
We Stop Wage Theft Helps People Find Class Action Lawsuits
We Stop Wage Theft is a dedicated group of legal professionals who assist workers who have been harmed by illegal payroll practices. We help employees fight back against unscrupulous employers who practice time shaving, employee misclassification, and overtime pay miscalculation, among other violations of federal law.
If you believe your employer is engaging in time shaving, contact We Stop Wage Theft today and learn how we can help you recover lost wages.