From the Hotline: Issues if an Employee Doesn’t Clock Out for Lunch

Question: Are there any risks when a non-exempt employee doesn’t clock out before leaving the premises for lunch, then clocks in when he returns?

Answer: There are some possible risks.  Essentially, by not clocking out when leaving for lunch, it gives the appearance that the employee is still “on company time”. Should that employee become injured while on company time, there is potential for workers’ compensation liability.  Management training and employee communications regarding the importance of ensuring that the company know when employees are on company premises for safety reasons is important.  In the event of an injury, the company will want to thoroughly investigate the incident leading up the injury to determine if it would be considered a job-related compensable event.

Here are some suggested tips for managing situations like these:

A)  Enforce your timekeeping policy to avoid these issues all together. Remind employees to clock out for lunch before leaving the premises. Let employees know that falsification of timecards by improperly clocking in or out (or not clocking in or out) is a serious company matter.

B)  Should an employee go off site during paid work time and become injured, report all facts to your workers’ compensation carrier. The carrier will investigate and determine if it is a work-related injury or not.

C)  During the paid rest period(s), require employees to stay on the premises.