If you don’t have an employee policy handbook, ask your Payroll Specialist about our HR product, which includes a downloadable, customizable handbook. You can create a professional handbook in minutes (yes, minutes).

Here’s an example of an issue that arose because the policy was not spelled out:

Implemented new policy to stop employees from punching in early

For months, employees at a quarry in Illinois had been clocking in early for work, and the company had no policy against the practice.

Some employees punched in 10 or 20 minutes before the 6 a.m. shift began. Several workers even stretched that to 25 minutes prior to the shift.

The company paid them overtime when they put in more than 40 hours in a workweek.

One day, an employee who hadn’t been punching in early had a conversation with some co-workers about what they were doing – and he decided he wanted to make his workday longer, too. Three days in a row, he clocked in 30 minutes before his shift started.

The next week, the employer posted a notice saying that workers couldn’t punch in more than five minutes prior to 6 a.m.

Being a union employer, that caused a stir. After all, the company knew about the practice – e.g., managers approved timecards.

Changing the practice without giving the union a heads-up or the opportunity to bargain violated the National Labor Relations Act, the union claimed.

An administrative law judge and the National Labor Relations Board agreed with the union that the company shouldn’t have implemented the punch-in policy the way that it did.

Checklist for compliance

• Having a policy about how early, if at all, employees can punch in can save headaches down the road.

• Union involvement in the punch-in policy may be necessary depending on your situation.