Need to clock in early? Maybe you are an early riser, or you want to get a jump on your to-do list, or maybe you are trying to impress the boss. Whatever the reason, you need to get permission first. Your boss has the right to set what time your workday starts.
Legally, every hourly employee should be paid for every minute on the clock. If you clock in early, it means more money for you, but a higher cost for your company.
And if you clock in early and often, it could also lead to additional overtime pay... which costs your company even more and could raise red flags. The same issue applies if you clock out late too.
Because of this, employers may try to prevent off-schedule clocking.
To prevent early birds, some employers may set lockout schedules. This will prevent you from clocking in until your shift starts. If they do, understand they cannot (or should not) ask you to do any work until you clock in. And please don't start working voluntarily before you clock in. That too, can lead to unnecessary compliance issues for your company.
Some employers may use rounding rules when clocking. For example, with a 15-minute rule, a clock IN at 7:53 AM will "round" forward to 8:00 AM. Which may not seem fair, until you realize it works both ways. For example, a clock IN at 8:07 AM will "round" backward to 8:00 AM automatically paying you an extra 7 minutes.
During your review, an employer may discuss and remind you of company policies. Sometimes rules for clocking in early are written in your employee handbook, or it might be an isolated issue. To make good, please consider complying to company time clock rules.
Some employers may even keep the doors of your office, store, restaurant, etc. locked until work starts. Which might be the easiest way for employers to stay compliant. You might decide to wait in the parking lot, but your company shouldn't have to compensate for that.
Talk to your boss. Explain why you need to clock in early. If you feel there is too much to do, and want to get caught up, please tell them. You could very well have valid reasons, maybe for overtime too. From there, it's up to them to make sure you are good and are given the opportunity to be successful.