Thwarting employee time theft with automation

April 23, 2024
8 min read

What is employee time theft?

Put simply, employee time theft is when an employee claims wages without earning them. So even if the employee is at work, technically they are not working.

Most employers pay based on the number of hours an employee spends working, and if an employee steals time or timesheet data is inaccurate, this results in a loss of both productivity and financial investment in the employee.

Time theft can occur due to a number of reasons including:
- intentionally misleading employee behaviour,
- poor time capturing methods and processes,
- by accident.

It’s important to note that time-theft is not exclusive to employees. Employers can also be found guilty of time theft by not paying employees according to worked hours which can result in increased employee dissatisfaction, higher staff turnover and even legal action.

Accurate time clocking in a business is a two sided coin with both employer and employee sharing a degree of responsibility. Either way, it's an important one to get right.  

Here's how, as an employer, you can ensure your business has the right tools in place to ensure a smooth time capture experience for all involved enabling you to have an accurate record of time worked at your business and proactively prevent time theft.

Most common types of employee time theft:

Time clock theft

Where employees intentionally provide false or misleading time clocking data. This might occur if an employee is clocking on early or clocking off late or “buddy-clocking” which involves getting a coworker or friend to clock on/off in your absence.

Extended break durations

When staff take longer than allocated breaks (eg. smoko, lunch, coffee breaks, etc.)

Excessive personal breaks

By spending excessive amounts of working time conducting personal affairs (eg. taking personal calls, texting, emailing, running errands, etc.)

What’s alarming is that time theft can easily go unnoticed, particularly when there's no integration between rostering, time clocking and payroll. When these elements are working separately, cross-checking data must be done manually. This can lead to discrepancies going unchecked and time theft left unnoticed.

How can automation help?

Here are some ways you can utilise technology to make your workplace a fair playing field for everyone:

Adopt a time-tracking software:

First things first, if you can’t accurately capture the time your staff spend at work, you won’t be able to detect if time theft is occurring. Using time tracking software will match rostered shifts with worked hours giving you a reliable and timely source of information to track employee performance.

Introduce biometric time-clocking:

According to studies, only 3% of employees monitored by biometric tracking terminals say they commit time theft. Biometric clocking has a higher degree of accuracy making it strenuous if not impossible for time-fraud to be committed, and would certainly make mates clocking for each other, history. Making a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition a good option to consider.

Remove paperwork from your work equation:

From clock on to payslip, using a single software solution that automates the collection and processing of employee worked hours allows you to streamline your workflow, give productivity a boost, and minimise opportunities for human error.

Link attendance sheets with employee payroll:

Connect your time attendance, payroll software, and accounting tools together to improve the accuracy of your work data. By creating an interconnected tech-stack that accurately registers, stores and processes your data, no effort will go unnoticed and it will make falling into the trap of under or overpayment highly unlikely.

Why make Microkeeper your go-to software?

Microkeeper uniquely offers integrated rosters, timesheets and payroll processing with numerous clocking options, all in one place.

Here are some features Microkeeper can help you with:

Time tracking for accurate payroll:

Clocking worked hours digitally with our time tracking software, mobile app or hardware options means there is less room for staff to record inaccurate start and end times of their shift. Pay runs will more closely match the hours worked, with less chance of over or underpayment. Microkeeper automatically links timesheet data to payroll, making the process fast and seamless hence minimising lost or wasted efforts.

Biometric solutions for real-timesheets:

With Microkeeper, work attendance can be recorded using our biometric clocking options; facial recognition or fingerprint scanners. We provide several affordable options for biometric time-tracking that are supported with time and attendance technology which significantly reduces opportunities for time exploitation and time-card fraud.

GPS location tracking and employee time clock app:

For employees on the move or at multiple/remote work sites, using the Microkeeper phone app enables employees to clock on/off only when they have arrived at a specific geographical location (using geofencing to set dedicated worksites). When supervision at a worksite is not possible you can be sure your employees are where they should be at the correct times (and not in the Maccas drive-thru) when clocking on. It is worth noting that an employee's location is only used if clocking on and off, they are not continuously tracked throughout their shift or outside of work hours.

Easy shift review and approval:

Accurate timesheets available in real-time. Clocked hours are presented in a clear overview, so assigned managers can quickly notice the difference between hours that were rostered compared to the ones that were worked. Managers can approve shifts fast and easy. Want to add another layer of automation? Our system can automatically approve timesheets that line up perfectly with the rostered shift.

Accurate data for business insights:

Capturing real data can make a real difference in your business. When you have a clearer picture of the hours your employees are actually working this allows you to pick up on trends and adjust your rostering and business operations to suit. For example, if staff are constantly staying an extra 15 minutes on a Friday closing shift it could indicate customers are out and about later. By extending business hours you could capture the increased store traffic and avoid staff ‘staying back’ by rostering to reflect updated hours.

Greater transparency

Having a single source of accessible time sheet data to refer to allows both employer and employees to be confident correct wages and entitlements are being paid. This can promote a workplace culture of trust, as well as minimise time spent clarifying, transferring data or communicating issues.

By having easy, up to the minute access to their data via their Employee Console, employees can easily track their own progress without having to follow up with admin or managers for trivial matters. Not to mention additional features such as leave request, communicate shift availability, view upcoming rosters and message the payroll department through the software.

Other ways of preventing time theft:

Develop clear time and attendance policies:

Define clearly from the start, whether it's during onboarding, job training or in the workplace contract, what you expect from employees in regards work hours and time clocking procedures. Provide the opportunity for questions and ensure expectations have been understood. This eliminates any potential for misunderstandings from the get-go that may result in time theft or even legal action in case of wrongful termination.

Fight disengagement:

Detecting disengagement among employees and having a conversation with them can go a long way in terms of identifying why they are withdrawing from their tasks or work.

Investing in staff morale:

Touch base with your employees with regular check-in’s giving them the opportunity to voice any concerns, make them aware of their importance, and make them feel sufficiently rewarded for their work.

Lead by example:

Last but not least, set a good leading example and instil proper behaviour and standards in the work environment.

Protect your business

Employee time theft is a common workplace issue responsible for draining business resources, particularly financially. However, it is something that can be easily tackled by improving key business processes.

Using modern-day automated solutions will help you create a fair playing ground for everyone in the workplace by detecting, countering and preventing time theft.

Microkeeper provides an array of time-tracking tools that fully integrate into payroll which will help accurately capture employees’ work hours and help protect employees and employers from the risks of underpayment/overpayment. Because in the end, that’s what it is all about.


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