Is it Everyone Or No One With Time Clocks?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about hours clocked:

Is it discrimination for some employees to punch a time clock while others don’t have to? All employees are union.

Signed, Wondering about time clock unfairness

Dear Wondering about time clock unfairness:

If your workplace is unionized your union representative would have resources for providing an answer to your question. However, I can provide some thoughts in a general sense.No, it is not discrimination to have different work rules within the same work setting–unless there are violations of state or federal laws or union contracts, requiring some consistency.Time clocks work well for having a mechanical record of when people are at work. There can be no favoritism or mistakes if an employee puts a card into a clock and it punches the time on it. This is better for most people and organizations than having everyone report to a supervisor to verify they are ready for work at the assigned time, or that they are leaving at the correct time. Some work does not lend itself to that method, because employees may often arrive late but stay late due to work requirements, or arrive early, and go home early to avoid getting overtime pay. A time clock is also not necessary when supervisors or managers can easily see when someone is present, for example in a small workplace where someone has either turned on their computer for the day or they have not, for example.

Here is my thought about the frustration of having some people have to comply with a particular regulation and some do not. If you were hired knowing you would use a time clock, well, nothing has changed, so you might as well. If everyone who is working next to you, doing exactly the same thing you are doing, every day, uses a time clock and only those who have a slightly or very different work situation do not, then it is just a variable in the work, but it doesn’t affect you so directly.

I understand that it is frustrating and irritating when some people seem to have more time freedom than you do. Or, when you see those people arriving late or going home early, but you are tethered to a time clock. Even if you don’t know exactly what work they do or how many hours overall they are working, it can be frustrating. But, the only way that might change is if your contract requires something of management that management is not doing. Or, if employees talk to supervisors and managers and convince them to eliminate the time clock altogether. The size of the company and the work setting may prohibit that from their perspective. Best wishes as you find out more about this situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe