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Dated rules could lead to timekeeping program abuse by employers

Employees in New York who use electronic systems for timekeeping might not give tracking software much thought after clocking in and out. However, a recent study found that workers may need to keep a close eye on their hours to ensure correct payments. The When Timekeeping Software Undermines Compliance study was published by the Yale Journal of Law and cites work from researchers associated with the University of Oregon School of Law and Georgia State University.

Federal timesheet regulations were last updated in 1987, when records were still largely kept by hand. The study notes that the lack of updated regulations means that improved technology may lead to abuse from those in charge. For example, a supervisor could make changes to an employee timesheet without informing the worker.

The study looked at 13 popular timekeeping programs and examined promotional information, technical support materials and video tutorials for the software. The researchers found evidence that many of the programs could potentially be used by employers to undermine compliance with hour and wage laws. Some programs automatically deduct break time, which means that hours might be reduced for breaks even in cases where the worker was not able to take a designated break.

When more suitable rules are in place, the software comes with more protections for both employers and employees. The software marketed to defense contractors had more safeguards, and this may be because the Defense Contract Audit Agency has rules that account for today's technology.

While some workers may be afraid of voicing complaints, employees do have the right to be properly compensated for their work. One may wish to consult an employment law attorney who can help one figure out whether any violations have occurred and establish a plan for action. Some disputes could be solved without litigation.

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