can my employer dock my pay 15 minutes if I am late

Washington State, Hourly employee. if I’m supposed to start at 8.00, and if I clock in later than .05 hour late 3 minutes, say 8.06, then my employer deducts an 15 minutes, .25 hours, in addition to the .06 hour I wasn’t clock in. Is that legal?

Asked on August 29, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

That is NOT legal. Hourly employees must be paid for all time worked: the employer cannot "dock" them extra time. A small amount of rounding is permissible: if you are 3 minutes late, you could reasonably miss 5 minutes of pay (rounding 3 to the next increment typically tracked), but docking you 15 minutes would itself be excessive and illegal--and missing 15 minutes plus the 3 minutes you were late is even more beyond the pale. You could potentially file a wage and hour complaint with the state or federal department of labor: your employer's policy violates the labor and wage laws.
Bear in mind that while an employer may not dock your pay for being late, they can do many other things: terminate you; suspend you; demote you; cut your pay; send you home instead of letting you work; etc. So while what is being done is clearly illegal, the legal options an employer has for tardiness are more severe.


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