Five reminders about California time record requirements

Employers are responsible for recording and maintaining accurate time records under California law. If the employer knows that employees are not recording their time correctly, the employer must enforce a policy for employees to record their time accurately, even if this requires disciplinary action. Additionally, employers should review their timesheets to ensure that employees are following proper procedures. Here are five best practice reminders for time records for California:

1. Make sure time slips are accurate.

It goes without saying that time records should be accurate in the time that is recorded for employees. For the employer, this means reviewing the use of electronic attendance systems. However, if an employer relies on the employee to record their time manually or in a spreadsheet, these records should be verified to ensure that the employee is accurate in the time they record. For example, the employer should prevent an employee from manually recording their start and end time and the same time every day without any variation. More information on electronic timesheets and storage requirements is available here.

2. Storage of time records for the required duration.

The statute of limitations can be as long as four years in wage and hour class actions under California law, and time slips will be the primary evidence in most of these cases. California law requires employers to track the start and end times of non-exempt hourly employees and record meal breaks, as noted below. Employers must ensure they retain these critical records for the time required by law, and also long enough to defend against wage and hour claims.

3. Must record all required information.

Employers should ensure that their timekeeping system records the required information. For example, while employers are not required to record 10-minute rest breaks, employers are required to record employees’ meal periods under CBI wages orders (the requirement is found in Section 7 – Records).

4. Maintain time records in a usable format.

Keeping records in a form that makes them nearly impossible to review is almost tantamount to not keeping them in the first place. Consideration should be given to how an employer stores time records and to understand how this data could be effectively reviewed in the future if necessary. Electronic timesheets are the easiest to analyze since the data is digital. However, employers need to consider where records are stored (electronic or paper) and how easy it is to retrieve information for individual employees and for all employees, if needed.

5. Follow up on signed employee waivers, acknowledgments and time card adjustments.

Similar to time slips, employers should consider a system for storing, indexing, and retrieving records related to employee time slips, such as time adjustments, waivers signed by employees (more than information on meal break waivers is available here) and signed acknowledgments of receipt. Documentation is essential, but being able to track and retrieve documents for specific employees or for the workforce over a period of time is just as important. Employers need to think about this as much as training managers and supervisors to document problems in the first place.

Bernard P. Love