Skip navigation
How to reduce time clock abuse

How to reduce time clock abuse

For as long as I’ve been operating a catering company, and for as many lessons as I’ve learned about the importance of taking action, there are still times when I let a problem go on for too long.

A recent example of this is our employees ignoring the rules about clocking in and out. For months we talked about how we had a problem with staff not following procedure for clocking in or out. Then payroll prep day would roll around, taking hours to reconcile because of employees’ failure to clock in correctly, and we would promise to address it, only to let it slide until the next payroll prep day.

I finally had enough and decided to do something about these time clock abusers. State law dictates that an employer must pay an employee for their time, so I can’t dock employees who ignore my time clock rules, and I don’t want to fire a good employee who has an aversion to time clocks. As a management team, we racked our brains to come up with some new rule for offenders. Finally we admitted we needed help.

I’m a member of a select “brain trust” of restaurant owners, and we meet at each other’s facilities every quarter. We visited Niffer’s Place in Alabama (great burgers!), and I found a solution to the problem. Hats off to Keely and Deena, owners of Niffer’s, who have implemented the “Dog House Rules.” I blatantly stole their idea (which was permitted) and set up our own Dog House Rule within five days of returning from the meeting. 

The Festive Kitchen Dog House Rule: Failure to clock in or out correctly will earn you a trip to the Dog House. Being in the Dog House means you will be scheduled to work early for one hour on a Saturday or Sunday morning assigned to you by your supervisor. You must report to work at the commissary kitchen and clean for one hour. It is guaranteed that you will be assigned a cleaning task that is not pleasant. You will be paid for your hour of cleaning at your regular pay rate. Failure to show up for a Dog House assignment results in dismissal.

The rule worked like magic! We have not had a time clock infraction in over a month.

Keely and Deena have multiple Dog House Rules, and we will add more if we need them.

Many caterers complain that their waitstaff are always late or don’t call in when they can’t work.  Here’s my rule we have had for years: no call, no job, no exceptions. Amazingly, we have never had a problem with staff not calling in that they cannot work.

Here’s the bottom line: If you have a problem, do something about it. Hold your employees accountable or stop complaining about it.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.