Time theft in your workplace is a silent cost that could be costing you more than you think - and you may not even know it's occurring!

In the workplace, time theft occurs when an employee accepts pay from their employer for work that they have not actually done, or for the time they have not actually put into their work - instead, they may be spending time on personal tasks or outside of work commitments. The employee is not actually completing the necessary amount of work during their shift, and it is considered a theft of time from the company.


Generally consistent among all industries and workplaces, time theft can be difficult to identify and even harder to prevent.

Besides the financial implications it can cause, time theft can also be detrimental to your businesses' growth, create low morale, create negative relationships with customers, and potentially result in your business not being successful.


Types of time theft to watch out for:


1. Performing personal tasks during their workday

This can be as simple as an employee going to get a coffee during their work hours; it all adds up.


2. Employees clocking in for each other

This is for those workplaces that use a manual clock in the system rather than modernised software.


3. Taking long breaks

 Your employee has been gone for 15 minutes over their designated lunch break. Doesn’t seem like much right? Add this up for a full-time staff member, that’s an hour and 15 minutes each week you’re paying your employee to sit around and not work.


4. Starting late/finishing early

 Again, it may not seem like 10 minutes of lateness a day means anything but add it up over time, and you’ll find that 10 minutes is costing you a lot of money.


5. Putting through unauthorised over-time

 This could be as simple as your employee rounding their work time to the nearest hour. It may not equate to much, but that’s money you’re spending on an employee who doesn’t contribute to your business's success.


6. Rostering oversight

Some workplaces still use outdated paper copy rosters. This can make it difficult for managers to keep up with who is supposed to be working when. Switching to digital software like RosterElf’s time clock app can be the perfect solution to make you're rostering more efficient and transparent.


How to stop time theft:


So, you’ve made the first step and established that time theft is happening amongst your employees, now what? You’re at the hard part; it can be difficult to break the cycle with your employees, especially if it is a common behaviour.

Firstly, hiring a new employee is your first chance to set expectations about what is, and isn’t, tolerated. In extreme cases, you may need to get rid of an employee for time theft.

In 2009, the  Small Business Fair Dismissal Code came into effect relevant to Australian businesses with less than 15 employees. The code relates to serious misconduct like theft, which includes time theft. It can be considered on the same level as stealing stock or money, and as an employer, you may have grounds for instant dismissal.

Although it can be frustrating knowing your employees are stealing time, the best approach may be to discuss them first. Sometimes time theft can result from an employee, not knowing what tasks they are supposed to be fulfilling. Set some tasks for those quieter periods, so there is always something for your employees to do.

Time-theft can be a difficult concept to manage and fix, but by implementing small changes, you can definitely get your employees back on track, and effectively using their time while at work.