We get this question a lot, and the short answer is yes. Many small business leaders face the challenge of getting employees to turn in their timesheets accurately and on time. Employers often get fed up and hope to withhold or delay pay for offending employees in order to motivate them to complete and turn in timesheets.

Wage payment laws vary from state to state, but every state and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) require employers to pay their employees for all hours worked on the regularly scheduled paydays set by the employer. An employee failing to turn in a timesheet is not an exception to these laws.

Sometimes, employers will state that they cannot pay the employee without the timesheet as they don’t know what hours the employee worked. But, under the FLSA, it is the employer’s obligation to keep record of the hours worked by employees along with other payroll records. So, even though many companies rely on employees to complete timesheets or punch in and out with a time clock, the employer is ultimately the responsible party. This means that employers must pay all employees for all hours worked, even if they do not complete or turn in timesheets.

What should an employer do if they do not have a timesheet for an employee?

One option would be to pay the employee for the hours they were scheduled to work, along with any additional hours you (or the employee’s supervisor) are aware of. If you find out later that additional pay is owed once an employee turns in their timesheet, you can make a correction at that time. Another idea would be to reach out to the employee and ask them to verbally provide you with a record of their hours worked. No matter what, the best way to avoid a potential penalty to the company is to make a good faith effort to pay the employee what you believe they are owed.

How do we prevent issues with collecting employee timesheets?

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Establish clear timekeeping procedures and guidelines for employees and supervisors. Explain why these are important to the company and to employees. Choose a method that works best for your company culture and integrate it with exiting business processes, whether they involve a time clock, paper-and-pencil timesheets or computer-based time tracking programs. Communicate often about the expected timekeeping behaviors and discipline employees who fail to follow them. A progressive discipline procedure often works best for correcting these types of employee behaviors.

Are you having trouble upkeeping your payroll records? Click the button below to download our FLSA Recordkeeping Guide for the best ways to stay in compliance with employer recordkeeping requirements.

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