Is It Legal For Coworkers To Look At My Time Card?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about privacy of time card:

Is it legal for another employee to look at your time card without your consent? Our time cards have our Social Security numbers on them, so I am very concerned about my privacy and any credit fraud now.

Signed, Concerned

Dear Concerned:

We are not labor law or privacy law specialists, so you may want to contact your state Department of Labor about this matter. However, we can give you some thought about how to deal with your concerns.There are federal laws about personal information privacy, but our research doesn’t show any specific law about time cards (compared to specific laws about how medical information and other personnel records must be kept.) However, there are many suggestions and guidelines in states and large organizations that refer to not having social security numbers displayed or not having documents with social security numbers or other private information, in open view. This is becoming more and more of an issue as identity theft has increased–as you pointed out.

There are no laws about merely looking at the time on time cards, only laws about fraud related to their use. According to the circumstances you may want to discuss a specific situation with your supervisor or manager, as a way to request removal of social security numbers or better protection of the cards.If it was a one-time and very casual glance, that’s one thing, but if a coworker was intently examining time cards, that is something else and should be reported. Even if the employee was only looking at the recorded time of another employee, that can indicate a potential problem.

If one employee sees another one looking at time cards, that person should question him or her about what is going on. If there appears to be something wrong happening, it should be reported to a supervisor. There are too many serious concerns to just let it go. Or, take this issue to the HR section. Ask if time cards can have the social security numbers removed, to ensure protection of personal information. If they don’t seem to take it seriously, tell them you at least want your social security number removed or concealed because you are worried about identity theft. Sometimes an employee has to push a bit, to get managers or HR to take matters seriously. Their time cards are probably not on display, so they may not have even thought about it as a problem. I hope this provides some thoughts you and others can use to help you gain privacy for your personal information. Best wishes.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.