Aug. 10, 2008 Governor Signs Amendment to Labor Code to Prohibit Requiring Employees to Sign False Time Cards

Summary

Governor Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill that amends California Labor Code section 206.5. The amended statute prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to sign a time card reflecting hours worked, which the employer knows to be false.

Details

Since enacted in 1959, Labor Code section 206.5 has prohibited employers from requiring an employee to execute a release of any claim for unpaid wages unless the wages have been paid. Violation of this prohibition constituted a misdemeanor on the part of the employer.

The amendment signed by the Governor extends this long-standing provision, by adding a subsection which prohibits an employer from conditioning the payment of wages on an employee signing a time card or other statement of the hours the employee worked if the employer knows the time card or statement is false.

Proponents of the amendment argued that some California employers are attempting to guard against litigation for the underpayment of wages or for meal and rest period violations by requiring their employees to sign time cards which do not reflect the actual time worked. The supporters of the bill further argued that an employer's ability to require employees to sign false time cards renders many of the protections of California law meaningless.

What This Means

The Labor Code now expressly prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to sign a time card or other statement of hours worked which the employer knows to be false.

Employers who require employees to attest to their hours worked as a condition of being paid should immediately evaluate their practices. Some employers have employees sign time cards prior to the end of a pay period as a way of facilitating the timely processing of payroll. Such a practice would violate the new law because time cards that purport to record hours not yet worked are, by definition, false. Other employers require employees to sign a timecard with "default" hours or breaks filled in. This practice could also violate the new law, if the employer knows that the default hours or breaks are not an accurate reflection of the employee's actual hours.

This E-Update was authored by Tim Keegan and Fred Plevin.  For more information, please contact Mr. Keegan, Mr. Plevin or any Paul Plevin attorney at (619) 237-5200.

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