Unread 05-02-2001, 03:58 AM
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Default Docking pay for late employees

I work for a County in Michigan. Some of the other departments have a policy of docking employees wages for arriving late. This is done in 15 minute increments, i.e., you are two minutes late, you get docked 15 minutes. It is my understanding that you can discipline and ultimately terminate an employee for tardiness, but cannot dock their pay. Those departments also have a practice of requiring their employees work 5 or 10 minutes into their lunch time (for which they are not compensated and must "punch out" on the time clock). The end result is employees working 42 or 43 hours, but being paid for 38 because they are docked for returning a minute late for lunch (after working 15 minutes of it!), or docked for being 2 minutes late punching in in the morning. Can this be right?

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Unread 05-02-2001, 04:00 AM
Paul in Cannon Beach
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Default RE: Docking pay for late employees


Sounds like they are asking for trouble to me. In Oregon, deductions can only be taken from an employee's wages for 4 specific reasons (required by law, ex. garnishments, or for the employee's benefit - a loan for example).

An employer takes some substantial risks when docking pay for being late - creating non-exempt salaried staff is one risk. If there are salaried, exempt employees in your organization who have been docked pay, they might be able to claim they are non-exempt from overtime and be owed for past wages.

As for working during lunch, again, in Oregon, unless an employee is completely relieved of duties during a lunch period, the time must be paid. Your employer should be paying you for any time that they "suffer or permit" you to be working.

Hope that helps a bit!

Good luck!

Paul Knoch

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Unread 05-02-2001, 04:01 AM
Margaret Morford
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Default RE: Docking pay for late employees

I agree with Paul and would add this one extra note. If your employees are salaried, never dock their pay for being late. Discipline them for being tardy.

If they are non-exempt, you only have to pay them for what they work. If they are two hours late, they do not get paid for that time. If your time system deals in quarter hours, businesses usually set the time clocks to round down if it's less than 7 minutes late and round up if it's more than 7 minutes late. You must pay them for all time worked. No working off the clock ever! Rounding due to your time clock is the only way they do not get paid for time worked. I recommend discipling employees for being tardy, not docking them. If you have additional questions, feel free to call me at 615-371-8200.

Margaret Morford

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Unread 05-02-2001, 04:02 AM
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Default RE: Docking pay for late employees

I agree with Margaret. Sounds more like a disciplinary problem to me. In South Carolina, lunch time must be at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to be considered lunch and therefore not compensated. If an employee is required to work any part of their lunch break which would include eating at their desk, they must be compensated. If "lunch" is less than 30 minutes, then it is considered a "break" and therefore compensated time. MI law may differ from SC law,however.

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Unread 05-02-2001, 04:18 AM
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Default RE: Docking pay for late employees

I agree with everyone else. It is a corrective action issue and shouldn't be a "docking" one. In California, rounding of time is OK, so someone who is a little late can be rounded to the next time increment. The reverse is also required, so that the rounding practice averages out over time. Not being paid for time worked is "not OK".

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Unread 05-07-2001, 12:19 PM
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Default RE: Docking pay for late employees

Sounds like we all agree, docking pay is a bad practice, and so is working off the clock. Not only is it back practice, it is probably illegal, and could have far greater costs than the few minutes or hours each week that these departments or agencies are trying to save.
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