Is It Against the Law to Claim Hours & Get Paid for Them If You Didn't Work Them?

Some employees mess with their time sheets to get extra money for hours they didn't really work. Not only is this behavior unethical and an offense for which you may be fired, but if you get caught, you may land in jail. Claiming hours you didn't really work is a form of fraud, and every year employees who engage in this behavior find themselves facing prison time.

Time Sheet Fraud

If you claim hours on your time sheet that you didn't work, you are guilty of time sheet fraud -- altering your time sheet so that you will get paid for hours that you were not actually at work. This behavior defrauds the company, as you receive pay under false pretenses. If you get caught, you can be arrested. In addition, most companies fire employees who commit time sheet fraud.

Red Flags

Supervisors may call for a time sheet audit if they suspect that an employee is modifying time sheets to get paid for hours that he did not work. If a company uses computerized time sheets, modifications to one employee's time sheet by another is often a red flag, triggering an audit. If a time sheet is modified long after it is approved or modified by someone who doesn't have the authority to modify or approve time sheets, that also tips supervisors off to fraud.

Warning

If an employer suspects time sheet fraud and does not investigate or doesn't take action against an employee who commits time sheet fraud, law enforcement may press charges against the employer as an accomplice. Even though the employer didn't actively commit fraud, by ignoring it she condones the activity and helps the fraudulent employee get away with altering her time sheet. Employers should audit time sheets regularly and investigate any discrepancies.

Consequences

Employees who commit time sheet fraud face a variety of consequences. Employees may face jail or prison time -- an NSA contractor in May 2011 faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison -- and may lose their jobs. In addition, student workers who commit time sheet fraud may lose a portion of their financial aid, as any student worker who does this cannot participate in the work-study program.

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