There are a lot of employee and employer rights that come into play if we want to actually know whether an employee can clock you out without your knowledge.
But what is 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 let’s start by understanding what is working off the clock, and can an employer clock you out without your knowledge.
1. Working Off the Clock
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.
There are some common activities that usually fall under the bracket of working off the clock. These are listed below.
1.1. 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.
1.2. Pre-Shift and Post-Shift Work
This includes tasks that are 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.
1.3. 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.
2. 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.
3. Problems with Working off the Clock
There is a possibility of this happening, but it is a very subjective question because the answer will vary based on the company, and its policies.
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.
4. Can an Employer Clock you Out Without your Knowledge?
In accordance with the laws, it is mandatory for the employer to keep a record of the employee’s documents which also includes a detailed list of their working hours, each day and every week and 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.
5. 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.
6. Final Thoughts
As we have seen what are the laws pertaining to the overtime and working schedules of the employees, and what happens in each scenario?
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.