Stop Talking about Time Theft — Focus on Time and Wage Fairness Instead

by Katie Sawyer, · 4 minutes
HOME blog stop talking about time theft focus on time and wage fairness

Last Tuesday, your star barista got to the cafe 15 minutes early. Your employee manual says that staff need to clock on right away, so your barista does.

But when you went to approve timesheets at the end of the week, you incorrectly rounded your employee’s start time to 6:30 am, erasing that early start time.

So when your barista received their paycheck today and noticed they were paid less than expected — that a 6:30 am start time was listed — they have no proof of why they should be paid more.

Sound familiar?

While the media often insight fear through “wage theft” — the notion of either an employee or an employer “stealing” money through inaccurate worked time — the real issue is time and wage fairness.

Read on to learn what time and wage fairness means — and why it’s so important for your business.

Transparency — it goes both ways

For NurseWatch, a nursing and home care provider, transparency is incredibly important. When staff go into a client’s home, they may find that they need to stay longer to address an issue. And they need to track why.

“Because we have our workforce management app up all the time for work health and safety, we always know where our staff are,” says Kate Spurway (RN, EMBA, APNA, MACN), founder and director of NurseWatch.

“If they haven’t signed off, we know to find out why. And especially due to COVID-19, we are diligent about checking on our staff and clients. There’s a protocol of if they haven’t logged off — phone call and progress notes.”

If you were to grade your business, how would you score yourself on being transparent? Remember: Transparency goes both ways. So that means both staff and managers need to be aligned.

Here are just a few ways you can help boost transparency in your business.

  • Ensure staff know what’s expected from them. You and your team should have clear alignment about what hours they need to work and what tasks they need to perform. Use your communication app — and turn on read receipts — so you have a clear record of communication.

  • Create a visible record of hours worked. You shouldn’t be the only one who can see what hours your staff work. Choose a workforce management tool that provides staff their timesheet on their mobile device so they can always check on their schedule.

  • Make changes public. Or, at least make changes visible to the individual they impact. If you or another manager makes a change on an employee’s timesheet, choose a tool that enables the employee to see what change was made and why.

When you build transparency into your workplace, you create a culture of fairness for business owners, managers, and employees.

It’s not just about the money

As a manager or business owner, you’re accountable for every dollar spent. That’s why you do what you can to spend wisely.

Often, managers focus on someone clocking in early or cutting out on their shift as a way to steal money from the business. Or conversely, an employer changing a timesheet to get out of paying an employee what they’re entitled to make.

But that’s not the right way to think about it.

Time and wage fairness isn’t about someone trying to make more money. It’s about the right way to work.

There’s a common misconception that legislation like The Good Work Plan is just about paying staff correctly. That’s part of it. But that legislation is also put in place to help both employers and employees make better and more informed decisions. Here are just a few of the other ways you can improve time and wage fairness.

  • Provide schedules in advance. Your cashiers have a life outside of your grocery store. They could be parents, students, or entrepreneurs, trying to balance their other duties with hours at the grocery. A reasonable estimate of what hours they’ll be working will help them coordinate their responsibilities outside of work — and will help you plan which staff need to work when. That will also help cut down miscalculated hours or confusion about what hours were scheduled to be worked.

  • Compensation for schedule changes. Yes, this one is about money, but it’s more about the concept of taking accountability for changing hours without advance notice. As an employee, you’re expected to show up on time and work until the end of your shift. As an employer, you’re expected to keep your word when it comes to the schedule. That dual responsibility helps ensure a fair system for time and wage management.

  • Throw a timestamp on it. If you’re using paper or a spreadsheet to track time, your “timestamp” isn’t that official. Instead, use a system that digitally puts a timestamp on your timesheets so there’s always an accurate, real-time record of any transaction.

For the fairest of them all

Happy staff make for happy customers.

When you focus on ensuring that your business promotes time and wage fairness across the board, you build a culture of trust between you and your employees. And if you don’t create a fair business, you’re at risk for penalties and even a tarnished brand reputation.

Try a free trial of Deputy to learn how managers — and employees — create a culture of fairness through their scheduling and record keeping.

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