Preventing time sheet fraud: tips to protect your business

As a business owner, you need to be aware of the growing issue of timesheet fraud. When employees falsify their work hours, they’re basically getting paid for time they didn’t actually work. Over time, this can become a significant financial burden on your company. 

But it’s not just about the money – timesheet fraud can also have a negative impact on your resource planning, project management, and employee morale. Inaccurate billing and payroll caused by timesheet fraud can make it tough to plan for the future. It can also lead to issues with employee discipline and trust. 

While it isn’t always easy to prevent timesheet fraud, there are some practical steps you can take to minimize the risk. In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What is time sheet fraud 
  • Different types of time card fraud
  • The impact of time clock fraud on your business 
  • How to prevent time sheet fraud

What is a timesheet?

A timesheet is a tool that business owners use to keep track of how much time their employees spend on work-related tasks. Timesheets used to be just tables on paper, but these days, you’re more likely to see online timesheets that offer real-time functionality. 

Timesheets are used to track your employees’ work hours and time entries. They’re also used to calculate payroll for employees paid for the number of hours they work. 

If you’re tired of dealing with the hassle of paper timesheets, you might want to check out Homebase’s free online timesheet app. Online timesheets allow you to automate calculations for things like billable time, which can be a huge time-saver when it comes to calculating payroll . 

Homebase’s timesheet tool can also help you manage your employee hours more efficiently. You won’t have to worry about mistakes or discrepancies that can add up with manual record-keeping.

free online timesheetHomebase’s online timesheet tool helps you keep accurate records

What is timesheet fraud?

In many workplaces, employees are responsible for filling out their timesheets, and it’s up to managers to double-check that the information is correct. Unfortunately, some workers try to game the system by submitting false information in order to get paid for more hours than they actually worked. This is what timesheet fraud is. 

You’d be surprised how much time can add up even in small instances of timesheet fraud (also called buddy punching in certain instances). Let’s say an employee adds just 10 minutes to their timesheet every day. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but if everyone on your team did the same thing, those extra minutes could snowball into hours or even days of lost productivity. 

And guess who ends up paying for it? That’s right, you do. That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to prevent timesheet fraud to avoid these kinds of losses and keep your business running smoothly.

How to Prevent Falsifying Timesheets

Timesheet fraud can result in lost productivity, incorrect payroll, and decreased profits at your business. It’s always best to be proactive and take actions to prevent timesheet fraud before it happens. 

These include implementing strict policies, monitoring employee work hours, and implementing digital timekeeping systems like Homebase to track your employees’ time and attendance.

Develop a clear time theft policy 

It’s important to create a clear policy that outlines what behaviors are considered time theft and the consequences of breaking the rules. You’ll want to communicate the policy to your employees in person and have it easily accessible at all times via an employee handbook.  

Make sure to explain why the policy was created and answer any questions they may have, so everyone is on the same page. To avoid any potential issues, it’s important to make sure all employees understand the company’s policies about clocking in for others and the consequences for not following them. 

By doing this, you’ll help ensure that everyone understands the expectations and consequences of time theft in the workplace. This can help discourage timesheet fraud before it happens. 

Use a time tracking software

Digital time tracking systems are more accurate than manual timesheets and can save you time from manual data entry. With time tracking software like Homebase, employees can use their phones to clock in and out automatically at their workstations, which helps prevent fraud. 

Additionally, mobile clock-in apps are a great option, as they allow employees to clock in using their phones, while following location restrictions. By using a digital time clock system like Homebase, you can keep more accurate records and prevent any potential time theft.

With Homebase time tracking and timesheets, you and your managers can cut the amount of time you spend on payroll by 75% — so you could save almost four hours each pay period.

Conduct regular timesheet audits

Regular timesheet audits can help you catch time clock fraud before it becomes a bigger problem. It’s important to review employee timesheets regularly and cross-reference them with other data points like pay data or your payroll budget.

By doing this, you can identify discrepancies and inconsistencies in your timesheets and take corrective action quickly. Regular audits also send a message to employees that your business takes time theft seriously and actively monitors for it.

Instill strict timesheet submission policies 

Establish some strict policies that dictate the exact time by which employees need to submit their timesheets. This will motivate them to record their work hours accurately and submit their timesheets promptly, without any room for guessing their work hours after working for several days.

If employees often forget to submit their timesheets, no problem. Not only does Homebase offer a timesheet app free of charge, but it won’t let employees forget to submit their timesheets in time for payroll

free online timesheet app HomebaseThe Homebase app makes submitting timesheets simple and easy for your team 

To tackle fraudulent practices like buddy punching, it’s important to review the schedule and workloads in addition to the timesheets. This means taking a closer look at when employees are scheduled to work and how much work they’re expected to do. 

Sometimes employees may ask their colleagues to clock in on their behalf if they’re not available at work during the required time. By conducting regular reviews, every employee can be held accountable for sticking to the prescribed work schedule.

Foster a culture of transparency and open communication

Preventing timesheet fraud isn’t just about implementing policies and procedures – it’s also about creating a culture of honesty and transparency in your workplace. Make it clear to your employees that you value their honesty and that you won’t tolerate any form of fraud or dishonesty.

Encourage open communication, and create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable reporting any suspicious behavior they observe.

Recognize and reward employees who are honest and follow company policies, and make it clear that there will be consequences for those who engage in time clock fraud.

Train managers on how to spot timesheet fraud 

Managers and supervisors play a critical role in preventing timesheet fraud. They need to understand the importance of accurate timekeeping and be able to recognize the signs of time clock fraud.

Consider providing training and education to your managers and supervisors on how to spot time clock fraud and what steps to take if they suspect it’s happening.

It’s also important to make sure your managers and supervisors are modeling the behavior you want to see in your employees. They should always follow time and attendance policies and procedures themselves and lead by example.

Different Types of Time Card Fraud

Clocking in/out too early or late

This is common in businesses that still use physical timesheets. Manual timesheets can make it easy for employees to write down incorrect clock in and clock out times. Sometimes the error is intentional and sometimes it’s an honest mistake. 

This type of time clock fraud can lead to overpayment and decreased productivity since it can distort the actual working hours of employees. Homebase’s digital timesheets make the errors very easy to correct, so if the fraud is in fact an accident, it can be easily fixed. 

Taking longer or extra breaks

Employees taking longer-than-normal breaks can have a big impact on your team’s productivity, while also being unfair to other employees who follow the schedule. It’s also important to remember that even taking unauthorized breaks during work hours can be considered time theft. 

Some employees tend to use their lunch or coffee breaks to run personal errands or simply take longer than necessary. To tackle this issue, consider implementing an employee break time policy in your employee handbook to ensure breaks are reasonable and consistent for everyone.

Buddy punching

Buddy punching is one of the most common types of timesheet fraud. In this scenario, one employee inputs incorrect arrival and leaving times for their coworker.

This type of fraud can lead to distorted records of employee work hours, resulting in inaccurate payroll and lost productivity. When it comes to time theft in the form of buddy punching, the Homebase time clock prevents this practice easily.

With the Homebase free time clock app, you won’t just be able to catch employees who forget to clock out after a shift. It also snaps a photo of the person clocking in or out, which means you can easily spot if someone is clocking in for another employee who hasn’t started their shift yet or who isn’t even supposed to be working that day.

Falsifying timesheets

Falsifying timesheets is a serious offense that can lead to legal consequences and reputation damage for your business. 

It can also create an unfair advantage for the employee who commits the fraud, leading to decreased morale among other employees.


Unlike other forms of time fraud, favoritism happens when you or your managers show preferential treatment to certain employees. 

This type of time fraud often involves management overlooking absenteeism, lateness, or extended breaks for an employee they have a personal connection with or like more than other employees.

The impact of time clock fraud

The negative consequences of time clock fraud aren’t just about your business losing money. Timesheet fraud can impact your resource planning, project management, and even employee morale. 

When workers falsify their hours, it can make it hard for you to figure out how long projects will take and how much they’ll cost. This can lead to mistakes in billing and payroll, which can be a big headache for everyone involved.

And that’s not all. Timesheet fraud can also damage the relationship between you and your employees. 

If your employees feel like they can cheat the system, it can create a culture of dishonesty and mistrust. This can bring down employee morale and, in the long run, hurt your team’s productivity and your business’ profits. 

Remember: This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

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