Employee time theft: 5 actions to prevent it

Employee time theft occurs when an employee gets paid for work he or she did not do. Can you prevent it? Not entirely, but you can mitigate it. IF it’s happening in your restaurant, that means it has been allowed to happen. Just like any other process that needs to be followed in your store, recording employee time is a policy that must be communicated and documented.

So, what can you do?

  1. Make sure there is a formal policy regarding recording time and that it is documented.
  2. This policy needs to be communicated to all employees via formal dissemination of published rules and a crew meeting to review.
  3. Employees should be required to sign acknowledgment of receipt and review of the policies to maintain employment.
  4. While this list is not all- inclusive, here are some of the more important topics regarding limitations on time recording that need to be covered in the policy:

a. It is the employee’s responsibility to clock themselves in and out. No one may clock another employee in. While it may be clear to you that it’s not ok to clock in a late coworker who has not arrived it, it may not be obvious to your team members.

b. If an employee fails to clock in or out, the store manager should be the only one who can change it in the POS system.

c. Daily break periods (meal, other) should be provided in compliance with any state laws but clearly defined in number of minutes and quantity as part of the verbiage.

d. Clear description that employees that are clocked in are not to have their cell phones on them during their clocked in time. They should only be allowed to use them during the prescribed breaks.

e. Extensive socializing with other team members or customers during working shifts will not be tolerated.

f. As has been discussed in previous posts, acknowledge that management has the right to conduct video surveillance of the interior working areas and parking lots of the restaurant to ensure safety and compliance.

5. Finally, a clear plan of the next steps of action if the employee is caught violating any of the procedures. Some examples might be:

a. Disciplinary action- additional days not scheduled;
b. Suspension pending Termination;
c. Termination; and
d. Legal Action.

Taking these steps will let employees know that you are watching, and that it is a critical issue. Asking them questions about their time will also let them know that you are reviewing their time records, which will naturally result in employees taking fewer risks with stealing time.   You need to review the data that is available and start analyzing it to make decisions that will have a positive impact on your bottom line.