As the holiday season approaches, employees will be turning their attention towards taking time off for their summer vacations. At the same time, their employers will already be considering how they will balance the needs of their employees with ensuring that they have enough people in the office or on the shop floor. During the vacation season, their employers will be concerned about coping with fewer workers than usual, and that business might be negatively affected.
The issue of workers taking time off is directly related to time keeping and time recording, and how employers monitor this. Most employers have clear vacation policies set forth, but it is imperative to ensure that any time off complies with these policies. Another key to vacation time is ensuring that your hours worked are properly logged and documented. At a time when more people are taking time off, forgetting to log in or out of work can affect an employee’s position with their employer, and even their job itself. It is federal law which regulates this area. The Fair Labor Standards Act 1938 (FLSA) governs the minimum wage, record keeping, and pay for working overtime. The United States Department of Labor provides detailed information about the records that employees must keep concerning all their workers.
When employees take time off, they will be required to ensure that they use the procedures in their workplaces properly and to log in and out. However, our lives are busy, and occasionally employees do forget to log in and out. Firstly, employers must be aware that they cannot take deductions from wages to account for such oversights. Hourly workers who are supposed to begin work at 8 am, for example, but who fail to log until 9 am, must still receive the amount that they would have earned since 8 am. This probably will not be a problem for an individual who forgets occasionally for a short amount of time. However, when someone does this before taking time off to go on vacation, it could cause confusion that will rebound upon the employee and the business. Given that employers are prohibited from docking pay, a forgetful employee might suffer consequences. Whilst termination of employment appears to be a drastic punishment, for an employer who has experienced great inconvenience this might be a necessary solution.
Other options for employers include establishing a system of fines. If fines are established, it must be clear that the fine cannot be deducted from wages. The terms must also be clear. In addition, suspension is an option. The failure to follow employment policies, and disciplinary procedures and warnings may also be a useful tool to remind employees of their duties. It is unlikely that an employee who takes time off for their summer vacation will go away for two weeks and forget to contact their employer about their oversight. However it is in their interests to ensure that they are alert to the negative consequences of innocuous failures to log in and out, especially when simply taking time off for a summer vacation might result in the loss of employment altogether.