Improve the Legal Defensibility of your Time Sheet

A business owner in California contacted me recently because one of his non-exempt employees complained that he had not received his legally-mandated meal period for the past several days. In many states, especially where this business is located, failure to provide an appropriate meal period to non-exempt employees can lead to significant wage and hour penalties.

Beyond the standard advice, direction, and review associated with the obligatory investigation that must accompany this type of allegation, I recommended the owner take this opportunity to improve the legal defensibility of the company’s timesheet by adding several attestations capable of strengthening its position across an array of potential accusations.

To that end, I suggested the following six statements be added to the revised company timesheet:

  1. My signature below confirms that I must sign in and sign out daily for my shift starting time, meal period beginning and ending times, and shift quitting time.
  2. My signature below confirms that I took a paid “duty-free” rest break of at least 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked or major portion thereof each workday. Rest breaks were taken at the work-site in the middle of each work period, as practical.
  3. My signature below confirms that I took an unpaid “duty-free” meal period of at least 30 minutes before the end of the fifth hour of work each workday and that I was completely relieved of all job duties during that meal period. I also acknowledge that the use of any company vehicle for personal transportation off the job site during a meal period or rest break is strictly prohibited.
  4. My signature below confirms the time I have reported accurately represents the hours I have worked during this work week, and that I have taken all rest breaks and meal periods as defined by law.
  5. My signature below acknowledges that I must immediately report any on the job injuries or illnesses to my supervisor and that I have not suffered any work-related injury or illness that I have not reported to the company either during this work week or any previous work weeks.
  6. My signature below acknowledges that failure to follow these instructions can result in discipline up to and including termination.

If you have any questions regarding the above-mentioned content or any other human resources topic, simply call me at (760) 685-3800.


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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 34 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.