My Boss Is Cheating On Her Time Card!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss cheating on time cards:

My boss has been cheating on her time card for some time now. She has the ability to change her/our clockings and clocks herself out 2-3 hrs after she leaves. I know she is doing this because I saw her time card and know it was completely inaccurate. I have tried to subtly tell her that someone may be watching over us to try and scare her. I have also mentioned something about her leaving so early before her shift is over— she simply states that she is using her paid vacation to make up for the hours. We work for a large company, but we work in a small department (6, including her). I am afraid she will know who reported her and that I will be retaliated against. My co-workers seem to turn a blind eye and act like it’s not that big of a deal. What should I do? I like my job and the company I work for, but I don’t think it’s fair, not to mention illegal.

Signed, Unsure and Aggravated

DearĀ Unsure and Aggravated:

There are several things for you to consider before you decide exactly what to do about this situation. I’ll mention those and you can see if they assist you as you develop a plan of action.

1. The first thing to consider is the culture and policies of your company. In some organizations bosses and some others at higher levels, have tremendous latitude about such things as taking time off, working on weekends, counting work at home as regular work, using vacation time, etc. In fact in some companies the time cards don’t really apply to bosses at all, especially if they are paid a set salary no matter how many overtime hours they work, as opposed to being paid hourly wages.Is it possible that your boss, though filling out a time card as a matter of practice, is not really obligated to fulfill a specific number of hours on any given day?The fact that she says she is taking paid vacation time indicates that she wouldn’t be allowed unlimited freedom about how she keeps her time records, and knows it–which is why she uses that a story. But, it is something to consider.

2. Another aspect of the culture is, even if she is technically doing something wrong, is it an accepted practice? Is she doing what most other bosses do? That obviously doesn’t make it right, but does indicate that it is not viewed as a major issue in the organization. If, on the other hand, the company would most certainly find it to be a violation and would take disciplinary action, if not fire, the person involved, then you have a situation that you know would be considered seriously and you don’t need to feel she would be supported over you, if you report it and can prove it.

3. The third thing to think about is that likely SHE has a boss. So what is that boss doing? Does he or she work in the area and know what hours your boss is working? The work hours of your boss are the responsibility of the boss above her. Is there a chance her boss is doing the same thing and that’s why your boss is willing to do what she’s doing? Again, that doesn’t make it right, but indicates she might have tacit approval for her actions.

4. Is it possible she IS making up for the time with vacation days? Is that an accepted practice? If she does that often, that would indicate she shouldn’t have much vacation time left as the year goes on. Does she take a full vacation?

5. If your company is a large one, it undoubtedly has a payroll section and an HR section. Consider identifying someone in that section who you trust, and reporting your concerns to them. Or, if you don’t know anyone in that section, contact a supervisor or manager in HR, either directly or by anonymous memo. I don’t like anonymous memos, but sometimes they make sense for the circumstances.Whatever method you use, give specific days in which you know the time cards were fraudulent and what the accurate times were. Give the names of witnesses if you have them and want to use them. State about how often it occurs and whether it is a matter of coming in late or going home early or both.

You could probably give your name without any strong repercussions. Whistleblowing about wrongdoing usually results in the employee having somewhat protected status! You won’t be punished for something you didn’t do. And, your boss doesn’t have the authority to push some negative thing about you, when there isn’t any proof and you can state why you suspect bias on her part. Reprisal doesn’t really happen that often anyway. On the other hand, it could be, and probably would be, very, very awkward to work with a boss who is aware you reported her. That’s why I think it would be better to send am anonymous message to HR or someone else at the top, if you are going to notify someone.6. The final thing to consider is whether or not the situation is so bad you feel you MUST do something. Time clock violations can be viewed as fraud, but rarely would there be a prosecution criminally in such a situations. However, it would seem the organization would be upset that they are paying her for x amount of work and she isn’t there doing it. I can understand why you think it isn’t fair. That is probably the worst part of this–that everyone who works around her is aware of it, acknowledges it, but doesn’t feel there is anything they can do about it.

The thing to ask yourself is, do you think she will stop on her own right away? If she continues for the next year or more, will you still be able to tolerate it? If you are found to know about it but have done nothing about it, would that have a negative impact on you organizationally? So, now you have to decide whether or not you think it’s important enough to report. Then, you need to decide what is the best way to bring it to someone’s attention. And you need to decide who is the best person to notify. You’ve certainly given your boss warning about how her actions are perceived, so you’ve done what you can do in that way.

Now, it seems to me you are at the point where, unless you can put up with it, you will have to provide some documentation and take it to your second level boss or to a larger unit in the organization–preferably to HR or a similar group. You didn’t create this problem, your boss did–and you’ve tried to warn her. Even if he or she is otherwise a very nice person, a very bad example is being set. I wonder what she would do if she found you or another employee doing the same thing? So,you don’t have to feel guilty for taking action to stop something that, if every employee did it, would be an organizational catastrophe. Best wishes as you decide when and how to take the action that seems best for you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what results.

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.