Under federal law, employers are required to keep accurate records of employee labor. This is because the law also has rules pertaining to what an employer must pay an employee, such as minimum wage and overtime. Birmingham labor law attorneys routinely meet clients who have been cheated out of their earnings due to unscrupulous employers hiding or mishandling payroll information. One clever trick some employers use is to have an employee falsify time entries. Then, if that employee complains, the employer fires the employee, alleging the termination is because the employee was breaking the law by lying about his or her hours. It is dirty, and it is unlawful. Here is what you should know about timekeeping standards and federal law.
Fair Labor Standards Act
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are guaranteed minimum wage and overtime pay, where eligible and qualified under the law. An employer is prohibited from “reducing” or in any way capping overtime pay. Put another way, if you work the hours, you get the pay. An employer does not have to let you work more than 40 hours per week, but if you do, then you have a right to be paid the applicable time and a half rate for those hours.
How Employers Use False Time Entries to Avoid Overtime Pay
An employer might create this unlawful situation by first asking employees not to ‘go over their hours.’ This is code for ‘we do not want you to work more than 40 hours.’ This is perfectly fine. However, over time the employer might begin noticing that the business sometimes requires more hours. The employer may begin asking employees to ‘carry over hours.’ This is code for “falsify your time entries so we do not have to pay overtime for your extra hours.”
If an employee works 35 hours one week then 45 the next, the employer may try to have the employee shift the five extra hours to the first week, thereby making three 40-hour work weeks, when in truth, the employee is probably due five hours of overtime pay for the week he or she worked more than the regular 40. This is unlawful.
Keep it in Writing
If your employer is forcing you to falsify time sheets or electronic time entries, first speak to an experienced labor law attorney near you. Most of the time, you will want to get your supervisor on the record in writing.
Employer’s Record Keeping Duties
Employers must keep payroll records for at least three years. Time entries must be kept for two years. There is no specific form of record keeping required, but there must be adequate information to record the hours worked and rate of pay.
Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division
If you are receiving illegal or inadequate compensation for your work, you may have a claim for the wage violations. These types of claims are brought before the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
Being Represented by an Attorney in Your Wage Claim
Fonteneau & Arnold, LLC have over 20 years of combined experience helping Alabama workers just like you. From wage and labor violations to unfair or illegal terminations, we fight to protect hard-working people who just want to be treated fairly by their employers. Call or visit us online to learn more or schedule a consultation to review your case today.