Workplace time tracking on laptop and smartphone. Workplace time tracking on laptop and smartphone.

Can an Employer Clock You Out Without Your Knowledge?

Have you ever been clocked out? There are a lot of employee and employer rights that come into play if we want to actually know whether an employer can clock you out without your knowledge.

But do you know about clocking out, how is it useful and why do companies use it?

Well, there’s a lot to be discussed before we can finally answer this question. So, I’ll explain all in this article

I Must Tell You the Meaning of Working Off the Clock

Basically, there are two meanings of working off the clock. One could be the employee working off the clock on his own will which might even be without getting authorization from the employer.

The second case will be the employer making the employee work off the clock, and using against them threats of punishment or something similar. Some common activities usually fall under the bracket of working off the clock. These are listed below.

  • Administrative Work– This can have a lot of tasks like attending meetings, doing paperwork or working on unfinished documents, and attending to work calls all under the not-stipulated working hours of the employee.

  • Pre-Shift and Post-Shift Work– This includes tasks done by the employees before and after their shifts which are basically not done in the assigned work hours of the employees. The activities include truck warming, cleaning the working station, procuring all types of equipment, assembling them, and putting them back in the inventory.

  • Waiting Times– These can be distributed into two slots, one would be the break time if the employees are somehow attending calls or replying to customers on board, carrying out surveillance but during the break hour when they are supposed to be not working. The second would be the time when the employees are waiting for the next assignment to be assigned to them.

Let’s Understand the Working Off-the-Clock Laws

The Fair Labour Standards Act, states that working off the clock post and pre-shifts counts as work hours and should be paid for, given that the employer is aware of the same, (which includes the timeline, and the work that he/she is doing).

According to the FLSA, the standard work period is 40 hours each week so everything beyond that is overtime. Other than the exempt employees anybody who works overtime must be paid for all the extra hours they put in.

In an interview with the Icy Whiz team, Michael E. Farah, Founder, Realtor, and Real Estate Attorney at The Farah Law Firm, P.C., believed in complying with legal timekeeping for fair compensation. Here is what he said:

Michael E. Farah
Michael E. Farah

“Remember that there are always legal provisions for accurate timekeeping practices. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that companies maintain accurate records of hours worked by non-exempt employees.

Some states, like California, have additional requirements, such as providing employees with a pay stub that details the hours worked each pay period.

Many companies employ electronic timekeeping systems to record each team member’s hours, which helps comply with these regulations.

Ideally, remote workers should have access to the same timekeeping tools as those used by on-site employees, ensuring that everyone can record their working hours properly.

Having a timekeeping system accessible on remote devices is beneficial for accurately monitoring work hours at any time.

Hourly non-exempt workers are entitled to at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. They are not paid for hours they do not work, except paid vacation, sick leave, and other approved paid time off that may be part of their employment benefits.

To make sure every team member working remotely receives fair pay, companies need to use precise tools for logging work hours.

While this may be less critical for salaried employees, those paid by the hour must have the capability to log their start and stop times, including breaks, as well as any work done outside of regular business hours.”

Problems with Working off the Clock

All companies have different specifications with these laws, the basic laws remain the same but the clauses can vary. For instance, there is a possibility that an employee can be fired if he/she is working overtime without authorization.

To avoid getting in trouble in any case, make sure you check your company’s terms and conditions in their contract.

Roop Reddy, Founder and CEO of ChatWithPDF, advocated for maintaining diligent records of all hours worked in an interview with the Icy Whiz team. Here is what he had to say:

Roop Reddy - Featured
Roop Reddy – Featured

“Using digital tools like time-tracking apps, employees should maintain diligent records of all hours worked, including breaks and overtime. These records serve as evidence in case of disputes and help ensure accurate compensation.

Organizations can promote transparency by adopting AI-powered timekeeping systems that automatically log hours, flag discrepancies, and generate comprehensive reports.

Additionally, implementing regular training sessions on labor laws and company policies fosters awareness among employees. Unique to this approach is the integration of AI algorithms to detect patterns of unpaid work, ensuring compliance and fostering a culture of trust and fairness.”

Can an Employer Clock You Out Without Your Knowledge?

In accordance with the laws, the employer must keep a record of the employee’s documents. It also includes a detailed list of their working hours, each day and every week. This can be done by using any time-keeping method that they prefer but they should keep the record intact at any time.

So, in some cases, there can probably be some exceptions or some adjustments where the employer can change the clock-in or clock-out times. But this would mostly be in accordance and understanding with the employee and in a general case, employers are not allowed to clock you out without your knowledge.

There are some cases like if you forget to clock in/out when coming into work or leaving, if you forget to clock in/out for a long break (more than 30 minutes), or if you double punch by chance in such cases the employer can change your hours.

But if the employer tries to change your hours by erasing the extra hours that you’ve worked from your overtime hours, or tries to put you under extra break hours that you did not take, or just reducing the time, then all of it is part of illegal activities.

We interviewed Jonathan Rosenfeld, Owner and Attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, and talked about the significance of meticulous documentation. Here is what he said:

Jonathan Rosenfeld - Featured
Jonathan Rosenfeld

“As a law firm owner, I’ve witnessed the significance of meticulous documentation in ensuring fair compensation for employees. One lesser-known but invaluable insight is the power of employees keeping detailed records of their work hours. 

By encouraging staff to document their start and end times, breaks, and any overtime hours, they equip themselves with compelling evidence in case of disputes over compensation.

This proactive approach not only empowers employees to protect their rights but also strengthens their position when advocating for fair treatment. 

As a firm, we emphasize the importance of thorough documentation to our clients, recognizing it as a fundamental strategy for upholding employee rights and preventing potential legal issues related to compensation.”

You Must Know About What Happens if the Employer Clocks You Out Without Any Knowledge

Primarily tell your employer that if they are doing such practices they are basically violating the labor laws. Inform your employer that you have the right to get paid for any overtime work you are doing for them, and make sure you receive the payment. Once you have switched from this job, and moved to another job you can now file a lawsuit against your old employer.

This is an ideal time to do this because now that you have secured a new job, getting fired from the old one is not something you will succumb to. However, you can still demand part of the wages that the previous company has not paid you yet.

Another case scenario is when you do not want to wait to get into your new job, you can even file a case right out. The risk is a little higher because you can be retaliated against by your employer for a misdemeanor.

The Icy Whiz team interviewed Mark McShane, Founder of Cupid Digital PR, about strategies for fair compensation for all hours worked. Here is what he had to say:

Mark McShane - Featured
Mark McShane

“Employees should keep track of their hours, and their employer should encourage them by reporting any uncompensated hours done to human resources or management immediately.

They can stay abreast of labor laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act to better assert their right to paid wages.

On the employer’s side, every organization should ensure proper digital timekeeping systems with appropriate training for all its employees.

Organizations should have regular training for all their employees on the use of their timekeeping systems and on labor law regulations. Organizations should have clear routes or an ombudsperson in place to address disputes arising from timekeeping procedures.”

As we have seen the laws about the overtime and working schedules of the employees, and their impacts. We can now safely say that an employer can not clock you out without your knowledge, except in a few cases. If he or she does clock you out without your knowing or allowing the same, you should definitely take action.

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by Pragya


Anushree Khandelwal
  1. With a few exceptions, we can now confidently state that your employer cannot have you clock out without your knowledge. You should take immediate action if they clock you out without your knowledge or consent.

  2. This article is informative as well as interesting.
    When you understand your rights and the legal protections to which you are entitled, it can help you avoid falling victim to illegal labor practices such as wage theft. So it necessary to understand your rights.

  3. I found this article on the possibility of employers clocking out employees without their knowledge quite insightful. Exploring the nuances of working off the clock and the associated rights for both employees and employers, it sheds light on the complexities involved. The explanations regarding the different scenarios, such as employees working off the clock willingly or employers coercing them, provide a comprehensive understanding. The mention of common activities falling under ‘working off the clock,’ like administrative work, adds practical context to the discussion.

  4. The discussion around whether an employer can clock an employee out without their knowledge raises crucial awareness about workplace rights. Understanding these nuances is vital in ensuring fair treatment and transparency in the workplace. Thank you for bringing attention to this topic!

  5. It is generally not allowed for an employer to clock an employee out without their knowledge. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), working off the clock, especially pre-shift and post-shift activities, should be counted as work hours, and employees should be compensated accordingly. Employers are required to keep accurate records of employees’ working hours.

  6. This comprehensive exploration sheds light on the nuances of working off the clock and the potential infringement on employee rights. The article effectively breaks down the various scenarios, such as administrative work, pre and post-shift tasks, and waiting times, providing clarity on what constitutes compensable work hours.Highlighting the Fair Labor Standards Act’s significance in protecting employees, the piece emphasizes the importance of employers adhering to record-keeping obligations. The mention of potential exceptions, like forgetting to clock in/out or double punching, adds practicality to the discussion.

  7. If you find that your employer is altering your time records without your knowledge, it is important to document any evidence you may have and consider discussing the problems with your supervisor, HR heads, or a relevant employment authority. In most cases, employees may have legal recourse to address such matters.

  8. The article is very informative by reading the article If I conclude the employee must know he’s right he should not do the work like a donkey work for that salary he should calculate that whether it is worth to his work or not this will surely save him from being a victim of Donkey working minimal salary and he must have the good enough knowledge about the tribunals Mentioned in the above article .

  9. The intricacies of working after hours and potential rights breaches are made clear by this exhaustive examination. The essay skillfully separates apart the various scenarios, such as administrative work, pre- and post-shift duties, and waiting intervals, to clarify what constitutes compensable working hours.The essay emphasizes how important it is for businesses to adhere to their record-keeping obligations and highlights the importance of the Fair Labor Standards Act in protecting workers.

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