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I am in the situation were I submit time to a manager for approval and it gets submitted to an external company (my employer) for secondary approval and processing. My timesheets are fairly complex with factors such as standby pay and the lack of any consistency in working hours.

For a multitude of reasons which I'll call my employer's "system" for brevity, they are encouraging me to shift time between days. They have also taken the liberty of moving time between days without my intervention.

I still get paid the same and my manager doesn't seem to mind that this is happening.

I can create a system for tracking the adjustments for my protection, but this all seems a little dishonest.

Is this an acceptable business practice and further more does it make a difference if the time is change before or after manager approval?

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    Is "their" system the client's or you employer's?
    – user8365
    Nov 20, 2014 at 14:04
  • "my manager does seem to mind" - do you mean doesn't ? Nov 20, 2014 at 14:27
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    This is flat out illegal in a lot of states. Secondly, it makes the time sheet worthless for an alibi.
    – Jasmine
    Nov 20, 2014 at 18:09
  • Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/9742
    – Blrfl
    Nov 20, 2014 at 19:05
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    Please specify your location as a tag. I'm assuming US but it's important as there's a legal angle involved.
    – Lilienthal
    Nov 21, 2014 at 10:16

5 Answers 5

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If this is used by the company to bill customers for your time, this is very dangerous. If the customer demands proof, such as from badge scans, your time card will not match. That can cause your company to have to refund money, there could also be fines. In extreme cases managers and employees can go to jail for these types of fraud.

I have seen employees fired for turning in dishonest time cards even if the amount of money is small, because the risk of losing a contract can hurt many employees.

Even if it is not used for billing purposes, it could be used to avoid paying shift differential, or overtime. A systematic dishonesty in time cards makes the company appear to be dishonest in other areas.

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    +1. "The object of the game is to be at least as honest as the law allows." If this is really a hardship for you, ask your manager whether you can get away with simplifying IN THIS SPECIFIC ASSIGNMENT, but be prepared for that to change with little or no notice.
    – keshlam
    Nov 20, 2014 at 14:06
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This is timesheet fraud. You are right to be concerned. It can be illegal (depending on the jusrisdiction of course and what the contract specifies about reporting hours worked) especially if the hours are being moved to avoid a situation where the company won't get paid for them or get moved to a dfferent project altogether (if I am paying you to work on Project A and it is out of hours, it can be illegal to charge those hours to some other project I am also paying for or to some project someone else is paying for that uses up their hours and they do not get the benefit of any work being accomplished.). If the client is a govenrment agency, there is chance it will get caught as they audit these records pretty closely sometimes especially if they suspect they are being billed for work not performed.

You need to be able to prove that this is not what you submitted if there is ever any question. Make a paper copy of every timesheet you submit when you submit it. If you are asked to manually move the hours afterwards, make sure to get the request in writing and keep a paper copy of that too. Keep the paper copies off-site. A well designed timesheet application should make it impossible for a supervisor to change the hours submitted by an a employee for just this reason. This is an internal check that every responsible company has. If I audited your company and found that supervisors could change timesheets, I woudl question the results and look much harder at the data. (I used to work for an audit agency and we dealt with this stuff all the time.) People can go to jail for timesheet fraud, you need to protect yourself.

Now if these are internal projects (or the client is aware of the move to a different project for billing and has agreed to it) and someone is not fraudulently getting billed, this is not so much of a concern.

It is also a problem if they are moving the hours to avoid paying overtime that you are entitled to. Not everyone is entitled to overtime, but if you are, they could be cheating you of money you are entitled to by law.

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If you falsify your time sheet, then you are responsible. If your company is doing it, then your company is responsible. I would recommend never altering these records yourself.

Ask why your manager feels the need to alter these records. Does he want to tell the client that you are working consistent hours? Maybe it is due to the Maybe he actually wants you to work more consistent hours? Perhaps he wants to limit the amount of overtime you are working?

Maybe this could be resolved by adjusting the actual hours worked instead of adjusting the hours reported.

Update (Thanks to user2284570) You should check on the local laws of your area. It may be the case that you may be held accountable if this act is illegal, as you would be complicit in it.

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    In many case if you know something illegal happens regularly and it indirectly concern you, then you are complicit in it. Nov 21, 2014 at 14:34
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Is this an acceptable business practice and further more does it make a difference if the time is change before or after manager approval?

In that it's common? Yes, it's acceptable.

Time sheets are used for a multitude of reasons across companies. At times they are meant to reflect reality. At other times, they are meant to make the numbers work for whoever needs the numbers to work (AKA, juking the stats).

As long as you are OK with doing it the way your superiors ask you to do it, and you're not breaking any laws, then it's acceptable.

As for those saying it's fraud...well, it can be. If you're a law firm billing clients by the hour, and you're padding the invoices, not a lot of people will likely consider that acceptable.

But on the other end of the spectrum...maybe you needed to take 2 hours off on Monday to see your kid in a play and then worked an extra 2 on Tuesday. But company policy requires an 8 hour day. So your manager just asks you to move the hours around a bit. Criminal? Probably not. Unethical? Maybe to some. Pragmatic record keeping? That'd be my vote.

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  • In many day-to-day situations, this pragmatic answer should trump the others. However, the moment time sheets are used for proof of anything, it gets problematic. Note that time sheets are often used as indication of the worked hours, not as proof.
    – Mast
    Nov 21, 2014 at 10:56
  • Usually a policy like that is driven by some external factor, like state law or customer contract.
    – nobody
    Nov 21, 2014 at 14:07
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I'll add an alternative scenario here, as I've worked in several places where the timesheet isn't used for billing nor for salary.

In many companies with fixed-wage salaried employees or where customers are paying a fixed service charge (eg I could work on their support for 1 hour or 160 in a month, they pay the same), the timesheet is merely used for management information - ie so that my boss knows approximately how his team's time is utilised.

My boss doesn't actually care if I spend an hour or two more/less on certain days, or that I'm fudging things back and forth by a day for simplicity - as long as my hours near enough correspond to the actual work I'm doing, he knows whether or not to hire more staff, re-allocate resources etc... it's just used to make sure that we don't have a developer doing lackey work due to the lackey being too busy, for example.