Many California employers use timekeeping software to track their employees’ hours. While timekeeping software may simplify record keeping for employers, flaws in the software could lead to wage and hour law violations. A new study appearing in the Yale Journal of Law and Technology showed evidence that the misuse of timekeeping software could lead to illegal modifications on employees’ timesheets.

Many employees assume that they have control over the records on their time sheets when they ‘clock in” and ‘clock out.” Whether employees use a stamped timesheet or a fingerprint or RFID scan to record their hours, they may assume that the hours printed on their pay stubs are accurate. In fact, timekeeping software allows employers to easily make edits to timesheets of which employees are never aware. Timekeeping software may also round an employee’s hours and automatically deduct time for scheduled breaks.

The authors of the study pointed out that the rules for maintaining employee time records should be updated to account for the new timekeeping software that is now available to employers. When the rules were last updated in 1987, most employers kept hand-recorded timesheets. The researchers said that employees should be told about any edits that are made to their timesheets and the reasons for them. Employers should also be required to explain any automated recordkeeping edits that their software programs apply to employee timesheets.

Employees who suspect that their employers have edited their timesheets illegally may want to talk to an attorney. A lawyer may be able to investigate employees’ suspicions to determine whether they have been denied wages to which they were entitled. If an employee was not compensated fairly for his or her work, an attorney may be able to help that worker file an unpaid wage claim.