Home Accounting & Payroll How to Handle a Missing Time Card

How to Handle a Missing Time Card

by Peggy Emch

Getting employees to turn in their timesheets isn’t always easy. So employers make ultimatums. “If you don’t turn in your timesheet, you won’t get paid.” This isn’t legal, however. The Department of Labor requires that employers pay their employees regardless of a missing time card.

Pay Employees For All Hours They Work

It can be hard to know how much to pay nonexempt, hourly employees when they don’t turn in their timesheets. But under the FLSA it is the employer’s responsibility to figure it out.

If employees are “suffered or permitted to work”, they must be paid, on time (refer to Payday Requirements by State). They need to be paid if they work unapproved overtime and for any time they work. They need to be paid even when they don’t follow their manager’s rules.

When you don’t know the hours

The problem is particularly difficult in situations where the employee works remotely or independently out in the field. Timesheets bridge that gap and if the employee doesn’t turn one in (or doesn’t track the time in real time online) then what can the employer do? If the employer has no way of contacting the employee and has no idea how much the employee worked, they will have to do their best at estimating the time. Try figuring out the employee’s total hours based on:

  • Client jobs completed
  • Past paychecks

When a missing time card delays client billing

This situation can get really frustrating when a missing time card delays client billing. A company needs to bill its clients in order to pay its employees and it can’t do that unless it receives a timesheet detailing the hours worked for clients. While employees may lose their job over it, they can’t lose their paycheck over it.

Have a Discipline Policy for Missing Time Cards

If you have stated rules about turning in timesheets and your employees aren’t following them, use a progressive discipline policy to deal with it in a consistent manner. Start by giving the employee a verbal reprimand, then give written warning, then suspension, and finally discharge. But remember that in all stages of the discipline, the employee needs to be paid on time.

Make It Easy to Submit Timesheets

If your company needs to receive employee timecards in order to accurately bill clients, then be sure to make the timesheet process simple. Tracking time online is so easy compared with paper timesheets or those manual, antiquated contraptions. Compliance becomes much less of an issue when employees don’t hate the task.

Get started with online time tracking.

Free online timesheets

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given shai September 10, 2017 - 4:40 am

What can you do if you forgot to sign the time sheet but you only signed the attendance register but the supervisor said he is going to book you off that day you worked

8 Ways to Help Employees Remember to Clock In - HR, Payroll, and Employee Management Tips for Small Business June 12, 2018 - 4:29 pm

[…] Missing timecards and incomplete timesheets are one of the biggest employee management hassles. Employees have to be paid for time they work, regardless of inadequate record keeping, and so, if timesheets are not turned in, someone has to go chasing after them. This can take up ridiculous amounts of time depending on the size and dispersion of a team. […]

Daphne R Brown June 27, 2018 - 8:03 am

My employer is 80 yrs old she has been late with our timesheets 3 times if it happens again I need to know what to do and not have to wait 2 weeks to get paid for last week work

Nancy J Hehr June 3, 2020 - 6:05 am

When employees fail to submit the correct hours worked, can we pay him on the next pay cycle or do we have to cut a check immediately?

Lindsay Sommers June 4, 2020 - 7:57 am

State law actually governs paycheck mistake regulations. Therefore, depending on where you are located you may have a few days to fix the error or you have the choice to fix the error on the next paycheck. You will either want to check with your HR representative for guidance or check with your state’s local labor board.


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