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His Boss Offered to Fake His Time Card! Help!

Updated on March 21, 2012

Dennis' Email Question:

My supv has (more than once) offered to punch me in if I am going to be late. She has said she has got the ok from our director. I am so not comfortable with her saying this. I actually don't know what to think does she want me to do it? or does she want me to be a whistle blower? Help!!!



Wow, that's a tough one.

Let's eplore this.

Clock Punching

I worked for a professional business office where the owners had some lame-ass retarded punch in and out system which made employees feel untrusted and taught them not to stay to finish their work. Anyone that had any sense of dedication or loyalty certainly tossed it and concentrated on what they could get away with instead of their work. The bosses were actually baffled as to why morale was so bad and that no one cared about their work.

In stark contrast, I worked for a small start-up in California where the owner and manager just couldn’t do enough for you. They treated to lunch, they gave wonderful bonuses, they even let us take turns borrowing the company jeep. We would all gladly come in early, stay late, and made damn sure our work was perfect.

I also worked for a Fortune 500 for 6 years where I’d been promoted 4 times. The company itself had a framework for hours, time off, and structure, but it was up to each individual department manager to enforce the rules as they saw fit. No surprise that each department ran entirely differently. One boss wouldn’t say anything if you were 5 minutes late in the morning, trusting you to be an adult and put the time back in at lunch or at the end of the day. Second boss would actually write you up and you’d have to go to human resources.

Take a guess which boss wound up with the best employees.

Enough Rope to Hang Yourself

Of course in all those experiences I was one of several people working hard and trying to climb the corporate ladder. In an atmosphere where people are given enough rope to hang themselves, those are that slackers are easily flushed out.

An atmosphere where people are treated like children, the exact opposite happens. The slackers aren’t kept in check, they just figure out a way around the system. And it’s the hard workers that are punished and crushed.

I have hired assistants at different times over the years. I never paid hourly. I set a weekly salary and a set of tasks that had to be completed. If you could get them done in X amount of hours, great. If you needed XX amount of hours, so be it. And of course, if you got everything done in X amount of hours, and were offering to organize something or asking for more to do, you shined.

Right now, there are thousands of applicants for every job opening. There is no reason at all for any employer to hang on to an employee that isn’t shining.

The Bottom Line

In your particular situation Dennis, I can’t tell which way your boss goes. Is your supervisor a good boss who knows the time clock thing crushes morale and she's looking out for your best interest? Or is your supervisor up to something.

Also, you need to consider the workplace. Is this a “job” atmosphere where people punch in and out, make their pay and don’t really care about what they’re doing. Or is this a “career” atmosphere where people are trying to do their best, be recognized for it, get promoted, get raises, and take pride in their work?

Figuring out the answers to these questions will help you design the way you say no to her offer. But no matter what, Dennis, you have to say no.

Falsifying time cards is a crime.

Taking part in a crime is really never the best idea for your career advancement.

Some Practical Application

When you pass and say no thanks, your boss could see you as some kind of whistle blower as you stated, and may not appreciate that. She may feel she's made herself vulnerable now by letting you know she's willing to commit this crime. It may work against you.

And as you’ve intimated, maybe it’s a test. Maybe the boss is trying to see if you’re the kind of employee that commits crimes.

If you go to your boss’s boss with this it can backfire. Your boss may deny having made this offer and turn it around saying you asked her to punch you in when you were late. Who will they believe?

Or, if they believe you and reprimand your boss instead of dismissing her, she will absolutely have it out for you. Then what will your work day be like?

Your supervisor has put you in quite a position.

What Should You Do

First off, you should trust your instincts. You said you feel uncomfortable about this. Don't fight that feeling, let that feeling guide you.

If you sense your boss is really thinking about your worth ethic and a system she knows doesn’t work to cultivate it, then this is fairly easy. You can thank her, let her know you appreciate her concern for your morale, tell her you value her actively trying to make sure you’re feeling appreciated, but that you would never commit time card fraud or allow her to do so on your behalf. If you approach the conversation from a place of gratitude instead of accusation you should be OK in her eyes. But be clear that you understand payroll fraud is a crime and you will not be a part of it.

If you sense your boss is up to something, this needs to be handled differently.

If she 's already committing this crime for herself or other employees it will not sit well with her that you understand just how illegal it is. The other angles, like for example that she’s trying to trick you to make sure you would never do anything like that, all have to be considered too.

I really think this is your BEST way to respond:


Whenever she brings it up from now on, you play it like she’s not serious. Smile like you aren’t judging or afraid, laugh like you really are not taking this seriously, and say something like:

“Oh you’re such a kidder! There is no way either you or I would EVER commit a crime like that!! You are so funny!! OK, seriously! Stop teasing me like that! You totally had me going the first time you said that! Too funny!! You’re such a crack up!”

The odds are she will let it go. If she doesn’t, don’t let up. Don’t ever admit you actually believe she is now or ever will commit a crime and consistently state that you would never do it either.

If she is committing this crime and gets caught or if somehow it ever got back to human resources that you had knowledge or an offer of participation to falsify your time card it will really harm you. If you stick to the idea that you really always truly thought it was a joke and that no one there would ever be crazy enough or stupid enough to commit time card fraud, you’re off the hook – to your boss, and to your boss’s boss’s boss.

It does not really matter whether or not she believes that you thought it was a joke. It's still a very clear way for you to get your message across. She should pick up on that. "Seriously, stop kidding about committing a crime," -is a very clear and conisderate message.

Keep us posted!


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    lazy bastard 

    7 years ago

    I'd go for it.

  • profile image

    Allied Time 

    9 years ago

    I think that the best way to go is to not let them do it. There is something suspicious about a supervisor who would allow you to be late. The only exception to this is if they are billing your time to a client, and they would rather bill the full time with proof of your punch in time vs. having to short the bill to the client. Either way, it doesn't sound like a good ethical way to go.

  • Nemingha profile image


    9 years ago

    I spent many years working and traveling my way around the world. When I was in London I had a boss who falsified my time sheets constantly. It was his way of saying "thank you" for a job well done, turning up to work on time, not taking extended lunch breaks, or worse, returning from a liquid lunch slightly tipsy, not leaving early and being willing to work extra hours when needed. There were no "strings" of any kind attached!

  • Teddybear1000 profile image


    9 years ago from East London, South Africa

    If you accept this offer you are only looking for serious implications!

  • Nicole Winter profile image

    Nicole A. Winter 

    9 years ago from Chicago, IL

    Excellent hub, Veronica, very thoughtful. I like the way that you considered different responses one could use if their boss offers to do this for them.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from NY

    Ralph Deeds, thanks. I've worked in those "trap door" places too, and I've also worked in places where if you withheld knowledge of a crime, you were an accessory. I really believe the best way for Dennis to handle this is to never waiver from the idea that he NEVER believed this was anything more than a joke. I linked a lot of resources showing people going to jail for committing time card falsification - doing it, and knowing about it. Odds are the job isn't worth jail.

  • Ralph Deeds profile image

    Ralph Deeds 

    9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

    You're right about the perils of whistle blowing. Where I worked they called the company's "open door" policy the "trap door." Bad things sometimes happened to employees who used the open door policy. It should be used with great care. Nothing wrong with simply saying "no thanks" when the boss offers to punch you in. Nice hub. You covered the subject well.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from NY

    Careful, you ;)

  • goldentoad profile image


    9 years ago from Free and running....

    I fake people's time, because I hate my boss and he cheats them.


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