In the past, time clocks were manual devices. You inserted your card, the clock punched your card at that specific time, and you did the same thing on the way out. Since the device was placed near the door, this gave a precise indication of when you arrived at work and when you left at the end of the day.
These days, however, many of these time clocks are electronic. Employers may allow employees to sign in on their personal computers. They may have one computer in a central location that everyone has to use. But it’s a digital recording of the coming and going of the employees, rather than a physical punch card.
Why would electronic time clocks be a problem?
If used correctly, these systems can be very accurate. Plus, having digital records of hours worked is beneficial for all involved. It makes it very easy to go back and see what hours were worked, and there’s not the risk of losing a physical punch card or something of this nature. Everything else in the workplace has turned toward computers and electronics, so it makes sense that this would, too.
The problem, however, is that these sign-in and sign-out times can sometimes be altered. You couldn’t do that with a physical punch card, but your boss may have the ability to change the time on your digital records – even when they’re not supposed to do so. They may elect to use this as a form of wage theft by recording that you worked different hours than you actually worked, especially if it helps them avoid paying overtime or holiday pay.
If something like this happens to you, you need to know about all of the legal rights you have as an employee in California. You shouldn’t let anybody cheat you out of your hard-earned wages.