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The workplace has many rules and regulations to follow, and time clock etiquette is another element of workplace rules: when to punch, how to punch, and what to do if you forget to punch the time clock. The use of time clocks is essential so that businesses can ensure that the hours employees claim as worked are accurate and they are paid accordingly.
Why Have a Time Clock
Employee time clocks are necessary for any business to operate. The terms "time clock" and "punch clock" are used interchangeably, but they mean the same thing. Time clocks document all hours worked by each employee, and in many cases automatically total hours worked for each pay period. Since labor is usually an employer's biggest expense, careful monitoring of hours worked by each employee is critical.
How to Punch a Time Clock
There are multiple types of time clocks. Some are old-fashioned, where you slip your time card into the slot and the machine literally stamps, or "punches," a time card with the exact date and time.
It is now also common to see time clocks controlled by a computer system within the company. Employees can log into the computerized time clock and enter a code to punch in or a code to punch out.
One of the most high-tech time clocks is the hand-punch time clock. This particular punch clock can identify an employee by his or her hand size and shape. In under one second, the hand-punch time clock recognizes the employee and completes the punch.
When to Punch the Time Clock
You will punch the time clock each time you come to the workplace and each time you leave, including lunch hours. It is important to clock in as soon as you arrive so that you get paid for the entire duration of your work day.
Do not come in early, punch the clock, then linger around or socialize. This is referred to as "riding the clock," an action that can be cause for reprimand and even grounds for termination.
Failure to clock out for lunches is also deceitful. If you leave the workplace, you must clock out.
What to Do if You Missed a Punch
If you have ever missed a punch, you know it can be problematic. As soon as you realize your mistake, take the time card to your employer or direct supervisor. If you simply forgot to punch in or out, your supervisor can usually write in the correct time and initial it.
If you miss a punch and do not realize it, you can expect a delay in your paycheck. Employers have different rules for failure to punch the clock each time you come to or leave work. Most of the time, the employee will get a stern reminder of the importance of accurately punching the time clock.
Tips to Remember
Make sure you punch the clock for yourself and yourself only. It is not permissible to punch others in or out, for any reason. If a coworker forgot to punch out, he or she will need to contact the supervisor. Do not do anyone any favors, as it could cost you your job. (The use of the hand-punch time clocks would of course preclude such behavior.)
Erika Bryant worked with Channel 2 news in Atlanta, GA for a year. Bryant has also written for her college newspaper, "The Signal", a neighborhood newsletter, and Firehow.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Georgia State University.
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