• Edited * Question put on hold by community due to specificity of the question. To be clear I am not looking for someone to tell us what to do with said employee. I did edit the Title to remove the implication that a yes or no answer was of interest. However the advice, both legal and professional, on this type of issue is broad and I was looking for others that may have dealt with this situation to gain a wider view of how others handled the issue. Thank you for the advice on wording questions appropriately as I am new to this forum. *

    We are a very small business and financial issues impact us on a much larger scale. We have an employee that has been with us for almost 5 years. Recently a suspicious manual time card change prompted an audit which resulted in finding more than 20 hours in the past 3 months that are fraudulent. Our office policy is clear that theft and falsifying time sheet entries are offenses that can lead to immediate termination. This employee is directly involved in the financial side of our business and we feel the potential risk might be too great for a write up. Thoughts?

  • What are the reasons you would not want to terminate this employee? – thursdaysgeek Sep 9 '19 at 15:54
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    What region are you in? Answers for something like this will vary greatly based on that. – Crosbonaught Sep 9 '19 at 15:59
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    We can't tell you whether you should fire your employee or not. That's a decision that you and your leadership need to make. – David K Sep 9 '19 at 16:15
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    Ignoring all else, let me ask you a "holistic" question: How much "extra" time does this employee give to the company for which they're not paid? Does he/she put in extra time for which they don't punch their time card? What I'm getting at is this: If these extra hours are simply "rounding up to the nearest 15 minute increment" or the like then perhaps you can evaluate how much "extra" time this employee "contributes" without getting paid. Not to say you shouldn't address this, but that maybe termination is too harsh dependent upon the reasoning for the overages. – joeqwerty Sep 9 '19 at 16:47
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    Open-ended discussion questions are also not a good fit for this site. As such, questions where you explain the situation and say "Thoughts?" are a bit too broad as well. Do you have a specific question that can be precisely addressed? can you edit the question to reflect that? – user85135 Sep 9 '19 at 19:15

That's not much over 3 months it sounds like he was rounding his time and if that's true then it was about 20 minutes a day. If he was just padding his time a little bit at the beginning and end that's one thing, but if he was taking on entire hours here and there then you gotta get rid of him but no matter what you do you gotta get the money back and write him up. Then you can fire him or keep him. If this is the only thing he ever done then you can probably keep him if you think he learn a good lesson.


Fraud is a very serious offense. I would not try to maintain anyone who committed fraud.

You have to sever ties immediately.

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    I'm unsure why this is downvoted. Time card information equates to pay. That's basically equal to stealing money since you're lying to get money you didn't earn. I completely agree that if found to knowingly enter false time, then the person should be fired immediately, no questions asked. If it's a confusing procedure like entering time into the wrong slot, then that is a matter of training and disciplining the manager. – Dan Sep 9 '19 at 16:40
  • @Dan - Because there are non-fraudulent reasons this might be true. There are also non-fraudulent-but-wrong reasons -- I found that "liberally rounding" was pretty close to to-the-minute time keeping, so I stopped doing that. Does that make my behavior "fraudulent"? – Julie in Austin Sep 9 '19 at 20:17
  • @Dan If you don't work the hours you say you've worked, then yes, it is. – Wesley Long Sep 9 '19 at 20:46
  • @WesleyLong - We don't know why the person recorded the hours. I'm salaried, so my hours don't actually matter -- no one pays more or less if I enter "8.5", "8.37" or "8.63" hours for a day. Yet, if i consistently write "8.5" instead of "8.37", after a while I've "fraudulently" reported quite a bit of time. – Julie in Austin Sep 10 '19 at 9:47
  • Every company has rules about rounding. At mine, it's the nearest 15 minutes. I don't think any company expects that you enter the EXACT time as that task in itself would be time consuming. I assume since the OP states additional, unaccounted hours it would mean the audit team considered the rounding problem, and then found with that aside, there are a lot of unaccounted hours than one would expect. – Dan Sep 10 '19 at 12:43

Leaving aside any legal aspects which I am not qualified to deal with, from a business risk perspective, what is the risk that you are worried about with terminating them? They are already stealing from you! Realistically, 20 hours of work in three months is not a lot, but that's what you found. They could have been doing it over the last five years without you knowing. If you keep them around, what's stopping them from doing it in the future? That makes them untrustworthy. Being in finance as well, they may be in a position to do more damage or hide the damage that they are doing. Fraud is fraud, and any amount of it should be material to you.

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