Stealing company time -- doing other things when you should be doing your job -- is considered a sackable offense by many businesses. Although most employers are happy to cut their employees some slack if they're not pulling their weight 100 percent of the time, there are cases when you'd be quite within your rights to come down hard on people who are repeatedly spending working hours doing things other than their jobs.

Clocking In and Out

An employee arriving a few minutes late every morning and knocking off before the close of day each evening is stealing your time. While tardiness and an enthusiasm to get home after work might not be a malicious act of time theft, it can end up costing you money if a worker repeatedly fails to put in her contracted hours. Much worse is an employee who fraudulently clocks in for work or bills for hours she simply hasn't done.

Internet Use

While the Internet is an important business tool for most companies, you might be disturbed at how much of your employees' Web time is actually work-related. A 2008 study from the network security firm Voco found workers spend about a quarter of their week doing personal stuff online. If you're worried about Internet use affecting your staff's productivity, talk to your IT department about blocking non-work-related sites.


You probably wouldn't begrudge your staff the odd water-cooler moment, but might want to take action if some of your employees are spending more time chatting about their personal lives and what they got up to over the weekend than working. Socializing during breaks is fine, but excessive non-work-related discussions during working hours amount to time theft.

Personal Business

Conducting personal business while at work is a prime example of time theft. Allowing your employees to take care of emergencies when they crop up during working hours is one thing, but a member of staff who spends large parts of his day arranging child care or talking to his partner is quite another. Make it clear to your workers that personal issues should be left at home.