Time Card Fraud
Experts on compensation say that the illegal doctoring of hourly employees’ time records is far more prevalent than most Americans believe. The practice, commonly called shaving time, is easily done and hard to detect Ã¢€” a simple matter of computer keystrokes Ã¢€” and has spurred a growing number of lawsuits and settlements against a wide range of businesses.
Compensation experts say that many managers, whether at discount stores or fast-food restaurants, fear losing their jobs if they fail to keep costs down.
“A lot of this is that district managers might fire you as soon as look at you,” said William Rutzick, a lawyer who reached a $1.5 million settlement with Taco Bell last year after a jury found the chain’s managers guilty of erasing time and requiring off-the-clock work. “The store managers have a toehold in the lower middle class. They’re being paid $20,000, $30,000. They’re in management. They get medical. They have no job security at all, and they want to keep their toehold in the lower middle class, and they’ll often do whatever is necessary to do it.”
Another reason managers shave time, experts say, is that an increasing part of their compensation comes in bonuses based on minimizing costs or maximizing profits.
“The pressures are just unbelievable to control costs and improve productivity,” said George Milkovich, a longtime Cornell University professor of industrial relations and co-author of the leading textbook on compensation. “All this manipulation of payroll may be the unintended consequence of increasing the emphasis on bonuses.”
The piece is entirely anecdotal, so it’s unclear how prevalent the practice is. Indeed, it’s not suprising that there are would be instances of unscrupulous conduct on the part of store managers at large chains. Obviously, people doing this should go to jail and, if there is in fact a corporate policy encouraging this, the consequences should be severe.