When you think of theft, your mind instantly pictures robbers sneaking around homes or pickpockets swiping from tourists. But for a lot of businesses, the biggest type of theft affecting them is time theft. A recent Forbes article stated that the average employee steals approximately 4.5 hours per week from their employer, totaling nearly 6 full work weeks per year, costing businesses hundreds of billions of dollars a year worldwide. But what exactly is time theft? The quick definition is that time theft is when an employee accepts pay for work and time that they should be putting in but aren't. This can come in many forms, but below we have a list of 5 common types of time theft in the workplace:

Buddy Punching

A study by the American Payroll Association reported that more than 75% of companies lose money from buddy punching. And that's only one type of time theft. Buddy punching is when employees have a co-worker punch into the time clock for them if they're running late or have to leave early. It tricks the system into thinking the employee has put in a full day of work, when in reality, they didn't.

Long lunches or extended breaks

It's normal that your employees would need to take regular breaks to stay productive. But consistently having a 60-minute lunch turn into a 75-minute lunch or adding another 5 minutes to a 15-minute break adds up quickly

One particularly costly break type is a smoke break. The average smoker takes roughly 6 days of smoke breaks every year, and that's only the average. In some industries, these breaks can add up to over 20 days a year.

Internet time theft

As one of the most common forms of time theft, this is when employees use the internet for non-work purposes. They could be using it for browsing the internet, online shopping, playing games, or spending bulks of time on social media.

Types of Time Theft

With the addition of smart phones and tablets, this creates unique challenges for the employer and often makes it difficult to detect.

Time card fraud

If an employee comes in late or leaves work early, they sometimes will round their hours to make it seem like they were there for a full day. Often this is done with innocent intentions, with the employee thinking it would be easier for payroll to have round numbers to calculate. Usually this only amounts to a couple of minutes every day, but over the span of a couple of weeks or a month it starts to add up.

Excessive personal time

It's completely understandable that at times an employee might have to take a personal call or answer a personal email. Emergencies happen. But when it starts to happen on a consistent basis and starts to be abused, that's when it moves into time theft territory.

A different common example of excessive personal time would be if an employee runs their own business while at work. This could be reaching out to their own customers, working on their website or social media, or even attempting to sell products to other employees.

Help prevent time theft in your workplace by asking us about our completely web-based time tracking software. This timekeeping solution help takes the burden off your shoulders by offering the flexibility you need. From fingerprint time clocks to time clock apps, our professional team has the options you need to save your business money and stop employee time theft.

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