As an hourly worker, you should receive pay based on when you are present and performing work for your employer. Federal law entitles you to full compensation for the time that you work, as well as overtime wages in certain situations.
Employers often resent how much of their budget goes to payroll. Some organizations aggressively employ policies intended to reduce staffing expenses as a result. Occasionally, those practices cross the line from “strategic business move” to “a violation of workers’ rights.”
Time-shaving is a payroll practice that has become far too common with the rise of digital timekeeping software. It could potentially deprive individual workers of dozens – or even hundreds – of hours of pay every year.
What is time-shaving?
When a manager or someone with access to the timeclock system, like a human resources employee, accesses someone’s records and changes them, the situation may constitute time-shaving. Whenever an employer changes when someone clocks in or out specifically to reduce the hours for which they deserve pay, they have engaged in time-shaving.
The name comes from the practice of removing just a few minutes for each adjustment. Rather than deducting a full hour from each shift, which workers would no doubt notice quickly, some companies instead subtract five or 10 minutes from each shift, possibly by slightly adjusting the time in and out each day. A five-minute change to the beginning and end of your shift will mean 50 minutes or nearly an hour of unpaid wages by the end of one five-day workweek.
That will add up to more than three hours of unpaid wages by the end of a month and over 43 hours of pay or an entire paycheck by the end of the year. Not only is such an effort a major loss for a worker, it can also be a huge source of inappropriate financial gain for the employer, especially if they employ this practice across numerous hourly workers’ records.
You can fight back against wage theft
Employees who suspect time-shaving may need to start carefully recording their own time clock information, possibly keeping printed slips or taking cell phone photographs to keep their own records of when they clocked in and out so that they can then compare those numbers to their paycheck each week. The bigger and more consistent the discrepancy is, the stronger the claim for the workers involved.
Employers who don’t pay their staff in full for the time that they worked may eventually face claims in civil court. Pursuing a wage claim can result in appropriate compensation for employees and reasonable consequences for employers who do not follow payroll rules.