Employee Time Theft: Prove, Prevent & Punishment

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Running a business in this competitive world is tough but what makes it tougher is when your employees don’t give their 100%. All the well-established companies as well as startups have to deal with employee time theft at some point which cost them a lot of money and opportunity to be the best in their vertical.

Are you also running a business that is not thriving as it should? Well, employee time theft can be one reason behind that. Don’t worry in this article I will show you how you can prevent employees from stealing time. I will also be throwing some light on how to prove an employee guilty of their time theft and what punishments they deserve. So without wasting any more time let’s start.

Table Of Contents

What Is Employee Time Theft At Workplace?

prevent time theft

In layman’s terms, employee time theft is a scenario in which an employee is paid for work that they have not done. Let’s understand it with an example. Are you paying your employees on per hour basis? If yes then you will understand what is time theft easily. So according to a study, an average employee steals 4.5 hours each week at the workplace. This means they are paid for those 4.5 hours per week for doing nothing.

Let’s put things into perspective, if you are paying someone $15/hour then they are ripping you off with $67.5 on a weekly basis. Now suppose if you have a team of tens of employees then that number will increase like anything.

There are many ways using which an employee steals time at work without you knowing about it. Like they might be wasting time on the Internet browsing or watching irrelevant stuff, taking long breaks, coming late and leaving early, etc.

How To Prevent Employee Time Theft?

It’s hard to completely stop employee time theft, however, using the following tips you can prevent employees from stealing time to some extent.

Set An Example

Do you know why followers are called followers and not leaders? It’s simple because they follow the leader, so if the leader itself is stealing time at work then what do you expect from the followers. You must hire leaders or managers who are energetic and take work seriously.

Seeing their seniors work hard for the business may motivate the employees to work harder and not indulge in time theft. So the first way using which you can reduce time theft at the workplace is to set a good example for your employees in the form of hardworking leaders.

Reduce Downtime

A business needs a lot of utilities to function properly for example internet, electricity, raw material, etc. In the absence of such utilities, the work can come to hold and this is called downtime in the workplace.

The downtime is the best time for employees to do time theft because they have a reason not to work. So try to bring the downtime in your business as low as possible if you want to stop employees from stealing time at work.

Boost Employee Spirit

If your employees are not motivated or if they feel left out then they might not work with all their heart. So you should always try to boost the morale of your team. If you are able to do so then you will see a sharp decline in employee time theft. To boost your employee’s confidence you can try the following things:

  • Treat each of your employees as an individual. Try to have a bond with them.
  • Celebrate achievements with them.
  • Recognize and reward your employees for their good work.
  • Empower your employees. Listen to their ideas and let their voice be heard.

Make Use Of Technology

Buddy punching is one of the most common types of time theft that happens at the workplace. In this type of time theft, a co-worker marks the attendance of their fellow employee who’s not actually present there.

To tackle buddy punching you should equip your office with smart gadgets like biometric time clocks or e-attendance apps and gadgets. With the help of technology, you can easily handle employee-time theft at the workplace.

Employee Time Theft Punishment: What Does Law State About It?

employee time theft punishment

You must have heard the phrase “LAW is equal for all”. If a company does not pay their employees wages for the time they have devoted to the company then the employee has the right to go to court to file a suit against the company. Similarly, if the company is paying their employee but they are not working for it then the company can recover its losses under the time theft law. The law can be different for different states. In some states, the employee may have to repay the payment, pay a fine or face imprisonment.

If you are sure about someone stealing time at work then you may also take disciplinary action without going to court. To punish an employee who is stealing time you can demote them from their position. Or you can also fire them from work.

How To Prove That Employee Is Stealing Time?

Before punishing employees for time theft or taking any action, you must have some solid proof against them or they can easily get away with the allegations. Now, you must be wondering how can an employer prove theft. Don’t worry I’ll guide you through it keep reading.

1. Use Software To Prevent Employee Time Theft

There are lots of employee monitoring software that you can make use of to track employees working outside of work or at the workplace. If they work on a company-owned device then you must have already installed tracking software on it. If not then you should immediately do so.

pcTattletale is a good employee software that I use personally for my business. I like it because it lets me monitor the Windows and Android devices of employees using the same plan. It continuously records their screen and syncs them to my pcTatttletale account. So I can see all their activities at end of the day by playing the recording which gives me a better idea of whether they are stealing time or not.


If I want I can even see what they are doing on their computer in real-time using the live streaming feature of the app. Also on an Android device, it can even track their exact location, this helps ensure if the employee is at the workplace or roaming around during work hours. Go through my detailed review to find out why I like pcTattletale so much.

2. Make Use Of Surveillance Devices

Not all employees do desk jobs so you can’t track them using monitoring software. However, you can install CCTV cameras at your workplace to keep an eye on all your employees. CCTV cameras are good to keep an eye on a large team at once but they might not be sufficient to collect evidence against them.

If you are sure that an employee is stealing time at work then you can record their activities with hidden spy devices like a pen camera with audio recording or eavesdropping devices.

How To Deal With Time Theft At The Workplace? Final Verdict

It’s hard to deal with employees stealing time but you can’t let them go because they are causing loss to the business. To prevent employee time theft at the office you must take some measures to make sure it does not happen again.

You can equip your workplace with modern office gadgets like e-attendance and time clocks which ensure high productivity at the workplace. You should also keep a good environment at the office and keep the morale of your team always high. By taking these small actions you can reduce time theft at the workplace by a good margin.

If after all your efforts there are some employees who are still stealing time at work then they should be punished according to the law in your state. Before taking any action make sure you have conclusive evidence against the employee you want to punish. So that you can prove them guilty in front of the law. For collecting evidence, you can make use of employee monitoring software and surveillance devices.


Can An Employee Be Dismissed For Theft?

Yes, if you catch an employee stealing time then you can dismiss them from the job.

What Are The Consequences Of Employee Time Theft?

The consequences may vary state to state as the time theft laws vary accordingly.

Is Stealing Time At Work A Crime?

Although it may not be counted as a serious crime, the company can sue their employee to recover losses.

About the Author

Ankit Prasad, an engineer driven by a passion for digital safety, founded SpyDrill to simplify cybersecurity. With a modest approach, Ankit shares insights on parental control and monitoring apps and effective protection measures. His aim is to empower users with practical knowledge, bridging the gap between technology and everyday understanding. An advocate for digital literacy, Ankit's commitment to demystifying cyber threats underscores his dedication to creating a safer online environment for all.

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