The North Carolina Wage and Hour Act does not require that an employer have a time clock or use time cards, and the WHA does not state who may or may not punch an employee's time card. In fact, the WHA does not require that time cards be signed by either the employer or employee. The WHA does require that an employer keep an accurate record of how many hours a day and how many hours each workweek its employees work.
The WHA also allows the rounding of time worked as long as the rounding is consistent "up and down". One method of rounding is the 7/8 minute rounding rule: 7 minutes round down and 8 minutes round up.
1) An employee's day starts at 8:00 am. The employee clocks-in one day at 8:05 am. Under the 7/8 minute rules, the employer must round the start-time "down" to 8:00 am for this employee. But if the same employee clocks-in another day at 8:09 am, then the employer can round the start-time "up" to be 8:15 am.
2) An employee's time to get off work is normally 5:30 pm. The employee clocks-out one day at 5:36 pm, the employer can round "down" so that this employee's stop-time is rounded to 5:30 pm. But if this same employee clocks-out at 5:39 pm, then the employer must round "up" so that the employee's stop-time is actually recorded as 5:45 pm; again using the 7/8 minute rounding rule.
As long as an employer is consistent both "up and down" in the rounding of time, then the fair and accurate recording of time should work out in the long run. But please keep in mind that an employer may still discipline employees who do not report for work on time or who work after their shift or day has ended without permission. Also, while an employer must pay its non-exempt employees time and one-half overtime pay based on an employee's regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, the employer can discipline an employee, including termination, for working the overtime hours without permission. But the employer still must pay a non-exempt employee the proper time and one-half overtime pay for the overtime hours regardless if the employee had approval or not.
For more information about workplace rights, please contact our toll free number at 1-800-NC-LABOR (800-625-2267).