Oregon recently passed a new law that takes effect on January 1, 2018, prohibiting employers from compelling, coercing, or otherwise requiring an employee to create, file or sign a time record that the employer knows to be false (HB 3008). Pursuant to the new law, courts may award up to $1,000 in penalties for each violation.
While the act of requiring an employee to sign a false document is arguably already prohibited in Oregon, this new law certainly increases the financial risk for employers doing so. And while complying may seem obvious (i.e., don’t require employees to sign records that you know to be false), there are a few practical aspects you should understand. First, this new law will likely be used as an add-on when an employee files a claim for unpaid wages. For example, employees could claim that they routinely worked 42 hours in a week, but submitted time records showing only 40 hours worked because their employer prohibits overtime. If they state that their manager routinely saw them working overtime, they could claim that the employer not only owes them for unpaid wages but also “knowingly” accepted a false time record. To avoid this scenario, be sure managers are closely reviewing time records and verifying that hours match with what they know to be true about the employee’s schedule; don’t let employees perform work without getting paid for the time.
Second, while it’s unclear whether an employer can avoid penalties by adding a statement at the bottom of a physical or electronic time card verifying its accuracy and confirming that the employee will be paid for all hours worked, doing so certainly couldn’t hurt. See our Model Form, “Timekeeping System for Nonexempt Employees”. Questions about this new law? Talk with your Vigilant employment attorney. Not a Vigilant member? Inquire today about flat fee unlimited employment law advice.