Signs of Time Clock Theft and How to Fight It

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Time theft happens when an employee accepts pay from their employer for hours that have not been worked or for tasks that have not been completed. It is more common than many employers realize, one study found that one employee will steal an average of 4.5 hours of time from their employer per week.1


Time theft is a more common problem for businesses with an hourly workforce, as time clock systems may be manipulated by opportunistic employees. Proper hourly workforce management solutions may help to reduce time theft, along with changes to workplace culture or treatment of employees.


Types of Time Theft and Signs of Time Theft


Buddy punching is one of the most common types of time theft. With this type of time theft, one employee will punch another in, even if the second employee is not present. Buddy punching often results in the theft of just a few minutes, but when this is multiplied by days, months, or even years, it becomes clear how costly buddy punching can be.


There are other types of time theft at the office, restaurants, or other businesses. These types of time fraud include:


  • Taking longer lunches
  • Time rounding
  • Unproductivity, such as wasting time on social media while on the clock
  • Excessive vacation or personal time
  • Dishonesty when working from home


Signs of time theft include:


  • Increasing labor costs without an increase in productivity
  • Altered timesheets
  • Excess overtime


How to Reduce Time Theft


Fighting time theft requires several approaches to the issue. First, all businesses should invest in an automated time and labor management program that reduces human error. With individual codes for each employee’s time tracking, buddy punching will become a thing of the past. Automated time reports make time rounding or time sheet manipulation much more difficult, helping to curtail time clock theft. We offer a variety of timekeeping and payroll services to reduce time clock fraud.


Workplace culture shifts can also help to reduce time theft. Building a culture of trust with employees will encourage their personal responsibility in honoring their time and company time. Ensure that all employees feel they’re being treated fairly, as this will make them far more likely to follow best practices when it comes to timekeeping.



  1. Forbes – How To Insure Against Time Theft

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