As an hourly worker, your pay depends on your schedule at work. When you arrive for your shift, you will clock in and then clock out before you head home for the day. Your employer will maintain records of each of your shifts and then compensate you accordingly at the end of the pay period.
You may trust that your employer will pay you fairly and in full for the work you perform, but you might put yourself at a disadvantage by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Some companies intentionally commit wage theft and underpay workers, assuming they won’t notice.
If you notice that your paychecks seem smaller than they should be or that the number of hours the company pays you for is lower than the number of hours you worked, your employer may have altered your timeclock records to reduce your pay. What happens then?
Only some timeclock alterations are legal
Companies do have the right to make changes to their internal records if they know that they are inaccurate. For example, if you came into work early and forgot to clock in, your employer can adjust the internal records to make sure you receive full pay for the time you were at work. If you forget to clock out when you leave, they can change the records to reflect when you actually went home.
What they cannot do, however, is remove time that you actually worked to avoid paying you in full. Whether someone reduced your time worked by an hour so that you didn’t qualify for overtime pay one week or just shaved off a few minutes per shift, that will eventually add up to a significant loss in wages if it continues.
How do you fight back?
The best way to fight back when you believe that your employer has altered time clock records to deny you fair wages is to maintain your own records of every shift. Those records will be an important starting point for any claim that you make against the company later. After all, companies that intentionally tamper with payroll records are unlikely to voluntarily remedy the situation even if you catch them red-handed.
Holding your employer accountable for tampering with employment records and underpaying you may require a wage claim but can eventually lead to full payment of the amount you deserve.