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Computerized Time Clocks Susceptible to 'Manager Attack'

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the save-a-buck-or-two dept.

Businesses 885

crem_d_genes writes "It appears to be business as usual for some chain stores to delete minutes from employees' time cards to save on the bottom line. The practice, while illegal and officially 'prohibited' by company policies is widely admitted as flourishing. Middle management is especially pressured to engage in the practice known as shaving time - 'a simple matter of computer keystrokes' - or another practice, that of shuffling hours between weeks, which is also prohibited by federal law. A number of lawsuits are being initiated because of admitted and alleged violations."

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Covered previously (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762529)

Someone wrote an article about this topic a few months ago here [timeshavers.gnaa.us] .

WARNING: GOATSE LINK. MOD PARENT DOWN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762537)

mod parent DOWN

Re:WARNING: GOATSE LINK. MOD PARENT DOWN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762544)

Grandparent is NOT a goatse link!

MOD PARENT DOWN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762565)

link is NOT goatse link.

I clicked on it and can say for sure taht its not a link to goatse

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762609)

Why was this modded down?

Did you actually CLICK the link to see if it was indeed a redirect to goat.cx as THE POSTER SAID?

Hypocrites.

Re:WARNING: GOATSE LINK. MOD PARENT DOWN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762637)

Why was this modded up?

THe link isn't a goatse link.

I've been to goatse, and goatse is MUCH different than whatever thi is.

Of course... (-1, Troll)

nuclear305 (674185) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762536)

In Soviet Russia, time clocks delete minute from you!!

Normal Practice at Wal-Mart (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762546)

This is normal practice at Wal-Mart Supercenter in Kilgore, Texas. The night managers edit people time in the computer system all the time to ensure that overtime does not happen.

Re:Normal Practice at Wal-Mart (5, Interesting)

arkanes (521690) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762602)

This happened at a Kohls where I worked and when it came out the store manager was asked to resign. There was a _lot_ of pressure on her to eliminate overtime, so I guess it's kind of unfair to her, but I don't have that much sympathy.

Re:Normal Practice at Wal-Mart (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762676)

The proper way to eliminate overtime is to tell employees that they're not allowed to work greater than 40 hours... and tell anybody going over that they have to stop working at their asigned time.

If a "you've got to get this done" order comes in conflict with the "you've got to stop on time" order, then the employee is already screwed.

Re:Normal Practice at Wal-Mart (5, Insightful)

KDan (90353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762747)

The proper way to eliminate overtime is to hire enough people to get the work done without overtime...

Daniel

Re:Normal Practice at Wal-Mart (4, Insightful)

chewedtoothpick (564184) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762759)

The problem with that is also that some states (here in CA for example) say that overtime occurs on the daily level. Anything beyond 8 hours in one day is overtime. So you could only work 24 hours in one week, but still get 16 hours of over time.

This would be a better article... (3, Insightful)

James A. M. Joyce (764379) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762548)

...if it actually offered a potential recourse to this employee abuse. I think most of us already know that many employers will do almost anything to keep you from punching in long enough to be classified as "full time" - but what can we do about it?

Keep handwritten records (5, Insightful)

bsd4me (759597) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762560)

Keep handwritten records in ink of your time in a journal along with your daily activities.

To what end? (3, Insightful)

PollGuy (707987) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762588)

So you can sue and use your journal as evidence? Who's going to believe that it is more reliable than the computer records?

Re:To what end? (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762685)

Your journal would be just as valid as their computerized journal as a created-at-the-time record that can be taken into evidence. At this point, the civil case would turn into "your word against their's" so it wouldn't complete the case on its own, but at least you're off to a good start.

Re:To what end? (5, Insightful)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762713)

If the company is forced to defend their computer record keeping system and it is found that a manager with something to gain can manually alter records, then that paper and ink journal becomes much more believable. If the system does not log manual alterations, it begins to look downright unreliable and easily tampered with.

Re:To what end? (4, Insightful)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762751)

So you can sue and use your journal as evidence? Who's going to believe that it is more reliable than the computer records?

Unless there is an audit trail every time the manager edits the time, I'd say most folks would believe the handwritten records. Only if there was no easy way to "adjust" hours would computer record be more credible.

Problem is, many folks will forget to punch in or out, punch in before they change, or otherwise try to game the system in their favor. Therefore a manager needs a easy method to account for this, wether it is done for simple forgetfulness or in an outright attempt to defraud the employer.

What we have here is folks seeking a technology solution to an HR problem. Even if you find a perfect technology solution, a manager can still intimidate employees into punching out early, working off the clock, etc. so long as there folks desparate for work, employers of last resort will try this; note that this ensures they get the cruft of the labor pool, will offer poor service, have employee theft problem. Turns into a vicious cycle, since this will reinforce their view that employyees are a shifty lot that deserve this abuse....

Re:To what end? (1)

bsd4me (759597) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762758)

As others have said, it isn't doesn't prove the truth, but it gives a lot of support to the employee's case. Further support would would gained if you record who else worked with you that shift, and also summaries of conversations with the manager (eg, "Manager asked me to work some extra hours next week to do inventory.").

Re:This would be a better article... (-1, Flamebait)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762619)

The problem is, if you're told not to work for more than 30 hours, and you do, you should be fired right there on the spot for disobeying the order not to clock in for more than you were supposed to. If the employee is given a task that can't be done in the allotted time, or be fired... then the employee is already damned if they do and damned if they don't, they're going ot get fired either way.

Re:This would be a better article... (4, Insightful)

lazuli42 (219080) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762723)

Wow, thank God you're not on the management track.

Having employees is more complicated than playing a video game. Often times employees will feel loyal to the company. They'll want to put in the extra time because they perceive it as helping the company that puts food on their table.

And you just want to fire these people? They're usually not folks that are trying to chissle their employer out of a few extra bucks. They're people who want to do a good job and will keep working until it's done.

Sheesh.

You can sue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762734)

Let the courts make this kind of culture more expensive than just paying overtime and then they will stop ... instead of just wagging their finger in public and letting it happen.

Re:This would be a better article... (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762737)

There is a difference.

If it takes you longer to do your work than what you are given, you should be able to make up the difference on your own non-paid time without being fired.

It's completely different if management is unofficially changing the stats. That's just grease. They should fire someone if he works considerably inefficiently yet completes the task in overtime.

It's that kind of person that takes overtime away from those who deserve the extra.

Re:This would be a better article... (5, Interesting)

ChodeMonkey (65149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762741)

Demand what McDonalds does (according to the article). Every day after you punch out you get a computer printout of when you logged in and when you logged out. You can keep that paper and use it as evidence of when and how long you worked. Very simple.

Re:This would be a better article... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762761)

..if it actually offered a potential recourse to this employee abuse. I think most of us already know that many employers will do almost anything to keep you from punching in long enough to be classified as "full time" - but what can we do about it?

How about: stop giving sanction to slavemasters by volunteering yourself as a slave. Stop participating in the aspects of society you find abbhorent or wrong.

Most people will patently reject this solution. Either the ideal is too precious to give up in the face of harsh reality, the person has mired themselves in debt and this is not an option, or they fear peer pressure from family and friends. But those are personal problems.

This problem is centuries old and its root has reached critical mass. If you don't want to comply, and you don't want to drop out, the only option remaining is revolt. And did you really expect to find a blueprint for revolution in a magazine article?

Can't help but wonder... (2, Insightful)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762552)

As a former member of the Air Force military police, as a play-by-the-rules guy, Drew Pooters said he was stunned by what he found his manager doing in the Toys "R" Us store in Albuquerque.

What exactly was a former member of the Air Force military police doing working for Toys 'R' Us in anything less than a managerial capacity?

Re:Can't help but wonder... (4, Insightful)

phisheadrew (526202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762570)

Trying to make some money in a crappy economy?

Re:Can't help but wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762579)

Dude, mangers have managers too. Anyway he was police, so it's possible he was in security.

Re:Can't help but wonder... (2, Informative)

Phosphor3k (542747) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762634)

It did say he was running the electronics department...seems managerial to me.

Re:Can't help but wonder... (4, Informative)

The_Steel_General (196801) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762664)

Apologies in advance to all the SPs out there...

It has been a while, but I recall that the Air Force treated Security Policeman (SP) as a default slot -- good for folks that hadn't requested anything in particular, with aptitudes well-suited to holding a gun while watching for Bad Guys. It's a role closer to security guard than policeman. There are some positions that have more responsibility, but I don't doubt that someone who had served one enlistment as an SP would be qualified for jobs not more complicated than, well, security guard.

(Again, nothing against the SPs: It just wasn't one of those positions that gave experience that was highly sought in the outside world.)

TSG

Remember when we had unions? (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762553)

Anybody who tried that in a union shop would have strike that day.

Thanks to Unions.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762594)

I got a nice summer job because all the grocery workers were greedily squabbling over their jobs

Re:Thanks to Unions.. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762616)

Nice troll.

And, naturally, only the workers were being greedy.

Re:Thanks to Unions.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762678)

Its only a troll because:

1. You know its true (so therefore it must be a troll because the truth hurts)

2. You know that there are plenty of people who need the money, more than these greedy union members do, apparently.

Re:Thanks to Unions.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762742)

So you're going to deny the fact that these workers are getting very fair wages and that there are many people who would be more than happy to take said jobs at said wages?

Who's greedy here?

Mod parent -1: Scab (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762692)

*cough*

Re:Remember when we had unions? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762627)

Yes, but union shops are so lazy and corrupt that they would have larger problems

Re:Remember when we had unions? (1)

wheelgun (178700) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762762)

The 'MADE IN CHINA' labels on almost everything reminds me of union glory days and what they did to the domestic manufacturing base. So yes, I remember unions.

Huh (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762556)

Think yourself lucky you have jobs you ungrateful bastards.

work the clock (5, Funny)

Qrlx (258924) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762561)

when i worked at the Burger King the system recorded time in 15-minute chunks. You could sign out for your break at 12:38 and your time card would show 12:45. So you could "get over on the man" if you timed it right.

Of course if you're working at the Burger King the Man has pretty much had his way with you already, but that's a different story.

Re:work the clock (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762632)

when i worked at the Burger King the system recorded time in 15-minute chunks. You could sign out for your break at 12:38 and your time card would show 12:45. So you could "get over on the man" if you timed it right.

Of course, somebody who stands by the timeclock from 12:37:43 to 12:38:00 is not actually working... so in this case it'd be legal for the manager to correct the stop time to 12:37:43 and therefore take advantage of the downward rounding to shave a quarter hour.

Re:work the clock (2, Interesting)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762677)

the Kmart I worked at in high school was the same way. The store would close for the night at 10 and people were known to huddle around the clock until it read 10:08, adding an extra quarter hour onto their checks. We were able to get away with it because the closing process would take around 4-7 minutes anyway, and that couldn't start until the clock at the front desk read 10pm.

This really only benefited the PT'ers, as the FT's were limited to 40 hours unless management approved overtime for the employee.

Once upon a time..... (5, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762562)

I used to work in retail, a middle sized national UK chain, and I can safely say that these happenings are not just US centric. They happen in this country too, and probably whereever there are large chains.

I was there a year before they brought in the electronic swipe card time keeping system, and I never think they saved much money with it anyway, as right up until I left, they were still employing a woman 2 days a week to chase up missed swipes, double checking stuff etc.

The company only paid you in increments of 15 minutes, and one of their favourite passtimes was to shave off enough minutes from your swipe in and swipe out so that it looked like those periods only consisted of 14 minutes and voila, half an hour saved on that day for that employee. Of course, us employees caught on and brought the issue up with the store manager who of course denied it all.

I did some research into the time management system, and discovered that one of its features was a debug trail, covering all activities within the system. So, one day when I had access to the system, I changed the windows shortcut to turn on this debug trail, and noone was any the wiser about it.

6 months later, we had a store visit by a group of people on the board of directors. I waited until they had done the rounds, and the store manager was glowing with pride etc, when I interrupted them to ask them a question. The question I asked was "So, is it national company policy to rip off your workers?", and when asked to explain, I did so.

Of course, they denied all knowledge, and the store manager was ready to throw me out there and then, until I said "Well, I can prove it.", and prove it I did. The VIPs, who later it turned out, knew nothing of this, took a copy of this file, and had it verified by the people who sold the time management system (luckily, they had checksums on all activities within the file, so they could conclusivly say that it was not faked, and every action produced the correct checksum in the correct order).

The store manager got sacked, as did a number of others in the chain who were doing a similiar thing, and all workers in these stores got paid an extra 2 weeks of pay. I took the money and left the company, to join my current employers who Im very happy at, outside of retail :)

Re:Once upon a time..... (2, Insightful)

CptChipJew (301983) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762600)

Wow, a real working class hero! Massive respect to you, sir.

Re:Once upon a time..... (3, Insightful)

Mercaptan (257186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762633)

Nice job, and dramatic presentation. Pretty gutsy too if you didn't know about the checksumming system that preserved the chain of evidence.

Re:Once upon a time..... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762636)

Lets all give it up for Richard.

Top bloke!

Not just chain stores (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762673)

I'm lucky enough to have a very highly paid job as a financial contractor (UK), but even up here in all of the banks I've ever worked at the mantra has been the same - no matter what the actual hours worked, enter 8 as the number worked per day. That way it all looks good on the budget.

Just book 5x8 (1)

KamuSan (680564) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762708)

Big Dutch bank exactly the same principle.
Just book 5x8 and if you work more, then just work an hour less the next week. Of course, this might work out negatively for you, since you can't prove you actually worked more the previous week.

And when they ask you to work more than 40 hrs a week, or in the weekends, don't expect that you're allowed to book more than your 5x8. So that was a no-go, because the only way to get my hours back was after the project. That means either in my own time (my boss' time) or another customer's time.

Watch the Clock (0)

longhairedgnome (610579) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762563)

Hear that employees, never let your eye off the clock!

this used to happen to me... (5, Interesting)

cygnus (17101) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762566)

and there was nothing covert about it. i was given 1/2 an hour after the doors were locked at the donut shop i worked at to clean the whole place and set things up for the next shift. if i took longer than that, the time was taken away from me. which meant that i had to do some of these duties while still open. which meant that sometimes i had to piss people off. if someone came in at 11:50 PM looking for donuts, sometimes they'd all already be thrown away (along with the coffee, too) so i could do the dishes before the doors closed.

tough shit... if the company's not going to pay me to do my job properly, the customer's going to suffer. not me...

Employer justification (3, Insightful)

base_chakra (230686) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762568)

My former employer was notorious for this kind of manipulation. They assume that employees falsify their times, and thus feel justified in "correcting" hypothetical discrepencies.

Cue Management apologists! (2, Flamebait)

DrMorpheus (642706) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762569)

Cue management aplogists to explain why this is necessary or no big deal or how employees do worse, etc., etc., ad naseaum. Oh, and how we don't need unions and all that crap.

Quickly followed by moderator trolls who moderate down anything but the libertarian party line posts. In other words, if this survives with more than a zero rating I'll eat my hat. I don't have a hat, but I'll go out and buy one and eat it.

Re:Cue Management apologists! (2, Funny)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762694)

*gives hat*

Re:Cue Management apologists! (1)

mik2o (736746) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762700)

Remember to let the rest of us know how that hat tasted...

MOD PARENT UP (4, Funny)

Deraj DeZine (726641) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762709)

I didn't read the whole comment, but I wanna see this guy eat a hat!

Anyone know where we could buy him an oversized novelty hat? (Oversized... it's funny)

Re:MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762720)

Texas?

Re:Cue Management apologists! (2, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762717)

Cue management aplogists to explain why this is necessary or no big deal or how employees do worse, etc., etc., ad naseaum. Oh, and how we don't need unions and all that crap.
Cue socialist to start an argument against an opinion that nobody has even expressed yet.

rofl +5 Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762739)

Just when I start to think that /. has lost all hope :-)

Re:Cue Management apologists! (1)

nih (411096) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762725)

i think its time you went out and bought a sombrero

Re:Cue Management apologists! (1)

God Takeru (409424) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762743)

Sir, I notice you have recieved a five in moderation. I would like to present you with this new Fedora.

Re:Cue Management apologists! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762756)

Damn, you read that wrong (+3 right now)! Management apologists on /.? C'moon doctor, you're among friends here - now chew my hacker biatch! ;)

Re:Cue Management apologists! (0, Offtopic)

HolyCoitus (658601) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762769)

The /. Karma model, finally filled in:

1. Complain about the /. crowd
2. Taunt the mods
3. Karma!!!

Common practice (5, Funny)

QEDog (610238) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762571)

It is not only common practice to delete minutes, but in fact last night someone delete ONE WHOLE HOUR. I'm sooo pissed.

Scott Adams (4, Funny)

dolo666 (195584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762576)

Scott Adams would predict that minutes would never have been added in the first place if Dogbert was somehow involved. Shaving them off only makes the company look guilty; but if they never existed... **WAAAAG** !!!

True (4, Informative)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762577)

A former roommate used to work at the local Radio Shack. He told me what they were doing was making him work 15 hours one week and 60 the other. Since RS uses a 2-week pay period, the total hours for the 2 weeks were under 80, so no paid overtime. This is illegal as all hell. I told him this and he contacted the labor board in our state and filed a report. The law (at least here in my state) requires employers to pay non-exempt employees overtime for any time past 40 hours _per week_, irrespective of whatever pay periods the employer may use. I was also told that most of the other RS's in the area were also pulling this crap.

Re:True (2, Interesting)

IpSo_ (21711) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762698)

I don't know about the US, but in British Columbia, Canada there is something called the "averaging agreement" where employees _and_ employers agree in writing to working XX (ie: 60) hours one week, and XX (ie: 15) hours another week without overtime pay. Its perfectly legal as long as both parties agree to it in writing _before_.

I would be very surprised if the US didn't have something similar. Think about all the people that work on oil rigs. 2 weeks, 2 weeks off. Thats how they usually do it, they have all employees sign an averaging agreement. Some overtime is still usually paid, but not near as much.

First (-1, Troll)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762584)

There should be at least 10 comments saying:

"Look, businesses just want to make money. This should be expected."

Along with the implied reasoning that it should be accepted, mainly because businesses want to make money.

Remember, folks. Managers never do anything wrong because they are in charge.

This is why we have unions (5, Insightful)

syphax (189065) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762589)

Unions are many things, but above all, they are a reaction to bad management.

Engaging in what is essentially part-time slavery is bad management; those who engage in it, or look the other way, are criminals.

Re:This is why we have unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762770)

Unions are many things, but above all, they are a reaction to bad management.
They are also a mild (and sometimes not-so-mild) form of blackmail, and sometimes even terrorism (such as when French unions periodically bung up the French transport system).

Few Workplace Rights (3, Insightful)

PingXao (153057) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762591)

Employees in the U.S. have so few rights. There's no other way, I know, but when employers stoop this low then something needs to be done. If I hire you and am paying you then I want every last minute of work out of you. There's nothing immoral about that. When I hire you and decide to secretly not pay you for some of the work you've done then I am guilty of something akin to slavery.

What's the punishment when an employee steals from his employer? What's good for the goose is good for the gander. I say it's time we start holding companies responsible for their actions. In particular, it should be easier to pierce the corporate veil than it is today. It would be nice if they paid taxes, too.too.

Re:Few Workplace Rights (3, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762647)

Correct. When an employee's timecard is negatively being corrected, the employer should send the employee a memo explaining "Your shift of 8am to 4pm on 4/2/04 was against company policy because you did not take a 30-minute lunch break as required by state law. As a result, we are deducting 30 minutes of pay."

Re:Few Workplace Rights (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762771)

The employee then takes the piece of paper to the labor board and tells them "not only did I not get to take a lunch - and I tried - but then they didn't pay me for all the time I worked that day, and here is the proof." Then, employer gets raked over the coals. Hence, issuing a memo like this is about the stupidest thing they could possibly do. It might be right, but it's not a good idea from where they are sitting.

Re:Few Workplace Rights (2, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762744)

something akin to slavery

I'd call it simple theft. Try to pretty it up with names like "shaving" or whatever, but it still boils down to good 'ol garden variety stealing. I'm not sure why this is being handled in civil court instead of criminal court. They had motif, intent and opportunity and should be facing the same sanctions as employees caught boosting goods out of the warehouse.

You're totally right about responsibility. As long as some groups can have their criminal behavior regulated to civil court, nothing will change. Because most of the time they can get away with stealing for years and litigate a fine when, and if, they caught. There's no incentive to change.

Working though lunch is not allowed. (4, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762597)

Under most state laws, any shift longer than a certain number of hours that crosses Noontime requires that the employee have a 30 minute lunch break.

This would mean that having a timecard that says 8am to 4pm with no breaks is just as illegal as inserting the 30 minute break that didn't actually get taken. It's just as much the employee's responsiblity to know they have to take a lunch break as it is the manager's responsiblity to tap the worker on the sholder and shut them down and force them to take the break.

We've got offsetting fouls on the play...

Re:Working though lunch is not allowed. (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762716)

Depends also on the type of work. In Oregon there are exceptions for school employees like secretaries or IT people in schools.

Re:Working though lunch is not allowed. (3, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762745)

Yes, but if the manager does NOT tap the employee on the shoulder and tell them to take a lunch break, it's the manager's fault, morally if not legally.

Ugh (4, Insightful)

Tirinal (667204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762603)

I think the fact that middle management has nothing better to do than attempt to halt the clocks for a couple minutes every day strongly indicates that their little niche in the corporate world is just a trifle overbloated. :)

Seriously though, I wonder at the effectiveness and pragmatism of such tactics. While it can be profitable to attempt stunts like these in large factories with hundreds of employees where a couple added minutes every day can add up, having so many people constantly look at their watches in perplexement is bound to rebound on you eventually when they sue and some overzealous jury takes the moral high ground. Not that it matters to the manager who actually perpetrated the crime since the verdict won't come out of his skin, but the company itself should probably be more vigilant in such matters. History is rife corporations being fined exhorbitant amount due to the actions of employees harassed by the bottom line.

Hard to detect? (5, Insightful)

MukiMuki (692124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762608)

Hard to detect?! I suppose the increasing drop in our nation's ability to calculate simple equations is making this more and more difficult...

But c'mon, most people can tell if they're frickin' worked overtime and suddenly not see that extra pay1/2 in their paycheck.

Trust me, I work 42-44 hours a week, and if even the slightest calculation on my pre-tax pay does NOT equal +40*8/hr. I'd notice pretty frickin' quick.

Always remember, even with direct deposit, CHECK YOUR PAY STUBS. Do the simple math, if it's too tricky (let's say you don't get a flat number per hour 'n you worked a frag-ton of hours) get a bloody calculator. Hell, there's probably one on your cell phone, and there sure as heck is one on your computer. =)

I figured they were talking like shaving 15 minutes out of the day to save a few bucks here and there, but entire rounds of overtime pay?! This isn't hour-SHAVING, this is hour-REAPING.

My first job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762617)

My first job, I would work 60 hour weeks, and get paid for 40 hours. I'd work 10-12 hours per day, and often on weekends, but I was only allowed to put myself down for 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. That employer, however, was honest. I was a high school intern, doing programming work, and they told me child labor laws would not permit me to work more than 40 hours (I was a minor at the time). They weren't happy with me for working more than 40 hours, but in the end, they tolarated it, and I loved that job, so I gladly did it.

In contrast, my most recent employer, where I averaged 30 hours per week (also in an internship) would not permit me to work overtime. If I worked more than 40 hours, the time would be shifted to a different week. I didn't realize it a the time, but according to this article, that sort of timeshifting is illegal... Come to think of it, they never actually paid vacation hours either. Oh well.

Unauthorized overtime (3, Insightful)

phpm0nkey (768038) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762622)

Legally, employers have to pay overtime to an hourly employee if they work more than 80 hours in a two-week period. The examples in the article are mostly workers who were told they could work a certain number of hours a week, and worked more.

This can be a sticky situation for employers. Frequently, they instruct employees that overtime is not available, people go over anyway, and the company has to pay up, whether or not they need/can afford the extra hours. That's the law.

As long as employers are clear about how many hours people are allowed to work, they shouldn't be required to shell out for people who go over.

Re:Unauthorized overtime (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762740)

This can be a sticky situation for employers. Frequently, they instruct employees that overtime is not available, people go over anyway, and the company has to pay up, whether or not they need/can afford the extra hours. That's the law.

As long as employers are clear about how many hours people are allowed to work, they shouldn't be required to shell out for people who go over.


The correct way to handle this is to hand the employee who does this three envelopes on payday. "Here's your regular pay. Here's you overtime pay. Here's your termination notice for working overtime without authorization." Make an example of this former employee, and nobody else will try that stunt again.

Re:Unauthorized overtime (2, Insightful)

ShinyBrowncoat (692095) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762763)

As long as employers are clear about how many hours people are allowed to work, they shouldn't be required to shell out for people who go over.
Yes, as long as they are not demanding unachievable production from employees, and threatening to fire them (and their managers) for not delivering 60 hours worth of work a week within the allowed 40 hours

Hollywood Video does it too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762640)

When I worked at Hollywood Video years ago, my manager would shave hours off if I worked too much, or he would do it so I would get less pay. I hated that mofo.

District Managers and Corporate Execs Responsible? (3, Interesting)

ShinyBrowncoat (692095) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762645)

Ms. Danner said her employees could not do all the unloading, stocking, cashier work and pricing of merchandise in the hours allotted. "The message from the district manager was, basically, `I don't care how you do it, just get it done,' " she said.

You have to wonder if there's any way to go after the district managers and/or corporate for knowingly demanding certain performance levels that could not be reasonably achieved with the number of "billable hours" allowed.

Re:District Managers and Corporate Execs Responsib (1)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762682)

In a word ... No. These butt-fuckers always manage to offer up a sacrificial goat (the middle manager). "Well clearly, (S)he misinterpreted the directives and was in violation of the law and company policy, blah blah blah." Given that they are already monkeying with the numbers on the computer, a whistle-blower middle manager might be accused of "altering the billable hours allowed -- they're just a disgruntled employee."

Audit Tracking is a Good Thing! (1)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762646)

This is where good database auditing practices should be in place and mandatory. It doesn't take a great deal to put these sorts of procedures in place. If a manager is consistently shaving time it would show up easily in an audit report. Just look for the managers who have the most changes in time in relation to the number of employees they manage with total time in hours and minutes that they have manipulated. If you see consistent lowering of time by a manager or district manager over time then it would be easy to recognize this situation. What was the original value for a record, what is the changed value for a record. If your using a SQL Server based system, you can use a product like Entegra from Lumigent to catch this sort of thing http://www.lumigent.com/products/entegra/entegra.h tm

So all in all what happens? (1)

CygnusXII (324675) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762653)

I see everyone getting sued, and decrying the practice as deplorable, but who's going to get paid?
It looks as if this is one of those, well we'll fix the problem, and from "This Point On We won't do this anymore." Once all the furor blows over and in a few years, it's back to "business as Usual." Morality Stops at the Bottom Line. $$$ I worked at BestBuy for awhile, and was slated for middle management, when I wouldn't steer potential customers of sales item, towards service policies, I was told to do everything possible, to drive them off buying the sales item, everything, even to the point of declaming the item, was an inferior product and not worth buying. Scullduggery is present at all levels, and all manors. This doesn't suprise me at all.

Better add more funds to Bush - Cheney (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762656)

Well now I know I need to add more to Busn and Cheney so I can make shure the Supreme Court is properly balanced.

There is a solution to this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762660)

Jail time.

Reluctantly, we need a new regulation (4, Insightful)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762663)

I'm not usually in favor of increasing government regulation on business, but I'm also a big believer in transparency and traceability. It looks to me like making the issuance of paper receipts to employees mandatory would be in order. As the person quoted in the article notes, it prevents shaving from happening in businesses that have that provision. California has wisely decided to add the paper receipt to its electronic voting systems to prevent equivalent abuses.

WORM drives or secure bitemporal databases (3, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762667)

Sounds like these timecards should be written to WORM media or handled by a secure bitemporal database that can track ALL changes for audit purposes. I'm surprised the SEC, IRS, OSHA, etc. even allow critical financial records to be stored on standard PCs and applications. This is how we get fiascos like Enron, Parmalat, and Barings Bank -- its too easy to cook the books because the books are kept on insecure systems.

During my temp career (2, Informative)

TerryAtWork (598364) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762674)

I got it so I could arrive at work 3 minutes early - but they set the clock to be 5 minutes fast so it recorded me as 2 minutes late... As time was measured in 15 minute units, I lost 15 minutes.

Paper trails are good. (1)

C3ntaur (642283) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762686)

If the time tracking device just printed a receipt showing time in, time out, and total hours:minutes for the shift, it would be exponentially harder for managers to get away with this sort of thing.

Come to think of it, if the new touchscreen voting devices that are sprouting up everywhere did this, election fraud would also be a lot harder to pull off.

Publix (4, Interesting)

LupusUF (512364) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762721)

One thing that publix (grocery store) I worked at did was, if you punched in your code the time clock would tell you how many hours you were scheduled to work, and how many hours you actually worked for the current week (as well as previous weeks). If you knew that you had been asked to stay late, and the time clock did not show you having extra hours, you would have known something was up. Also, if you worked overtime, the manager was required to swipe his card through the machine showing that he requested you to work overtime. That way there was an extra record of your time. There was also a hard copy of schedules (including # of hours requested) posted. Of course having honest managers was a help as well. Hell, when things got busy and my manager did not think we could get it done in time...instead of messing with our hours, he would work right beside us.

Implications of this practice (1)

masternerd (753023) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762726)

I am surprise that online retailers too practice it. Statistics indicates a significant number of people order items online. Privacy is another issue. May be there will be a compromise in future where some time would be tolerable for surfing while at work. Interesting story.

Scumbag employers. (4, Interesting)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762729)

Once, I did some temp work at a cookie factory. We punched a time card when we arrived, and again when we left. Their policy was that you absolutely could not be late. If you were late (even by a minute) three times, you would be terminated. Fair enough. I had to drive 16 miles to get there -- so I alloted a little extra time for variable road conditions, traffic, etc. I usually ended up arriving 5-10 minutes ahead of time. Now, by my way of thinking, this is 5-10 minutes that I could be watching t.v. or programming or whatever. So, I clocked in early. Two weeks later, when I got my paycheck, I noticed they had trimmed off all minutes prior to official beginning of the shift. Mother Fuckers! Burn me for 5-10 minutes a day. But, I dare not burn them for 3 in toto. I am delighted that their plant is now closed. Something about some upper management embezzlement!

Amazing (2, Insightful)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762731)

Isn't it? The amount of time, effort and MONEY companies will invest in making sure some employee doesn't get an extra $117.42 on their minimum-wage paycheck.

My Workplace (1)

FractusMan (711004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762733)

My Workplace does the same thing. We have to 'punch in' on our own PCs. The thing is, if we sign in Five Minutes early, we don't get paid for those five minutes. However, if we sign in five minutes late, we get docked five minutes. Same when signing out. If we sign out early, we get docked the minutes. If we sign out a little late, we don't get paid for that.

I did some calculations, assuming a 3 minute sign-in lateness and 3-minute sign out early, multiplied by the number of employees, wages, hours worked, etc... The numbers were dishearteningly high.

They did that at the Office Depot I worked at. (3, Interesting)

Trespass (225077) | more than 10 years ago | (#8762764)

Then management had the temerity to act surprised when they discovered a bunch of employees were stealing from the store.

This happens as much by bullying as by computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8762765)

I used to work at Hooters as a bus boy. Not a great job, despite whatever fringe benefits one might imagine. Though we were officially afforded breaks and required to have them, we often worked from 4pm till maybe 2am. If we wanted a break, the manager would get angry because it was busy. However, it was always busy. If you took a break anyway, you could rest assured that you'd be scheduled much less.
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