Privacy concern: Are ‘group’ time sheets legal?

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in Small Business Tax Deduction Strategies

Q. Currently, we require each individual employee to fill out his or her own time sheet. But we’re considering a new format that lists all employees on one time sheet. Is this legal? Or should each employee’s time sheet be kept confidential? — P.A., North Carolina

A. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to maintain and preserve payroll or other records, including the number of hours “worked each workday and total hours worked each workweek.” The FLSA does not prescribe a particular order or form in which these records must be kept.

The law specifies that “the records may be maintained and preserved on microfilm or other basic source document of an automatic word or data processing memory provided that adequate projection or viewing equipment is available, that the reproductions are clear and identifiable by date or pay period and that extensions or transcriptions of the information required by this part are made available upon request.” (29 CFR 516.1)

Thus, the FLSA does not require that records of employees’ hours be kept confidential. However, employers should be careful to avoid disclosing personal information on these time sheets, such as employees’ Social Security numbers or rates of pay.

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