Can my employer reduce my hourly compensation rate to penalize me on any/all days that I arrive 1 minute late to work, if I am already not being compensated for any time missed?

My boss has implemented a new, rather aggressive tactic to enforce punctuality. Any days that I arrive late to work, my contractually agreed hourly rate for all hours worked on that day is decreased by 7. I already do not dock, nor get paid for time I’m not present. If I arrive at 9:15 am, the wage clock begins at 9:15 am. Given that I work 60 hours per week and make most of my livelihood in OT, this is horrifically detrimental to my bank account. The 3 1-15 minute late arrivals last week decreased my bi-weekly paycheck by nearly $1500 net.

Asked on May 10, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Harsh as it is, they may do this:
1) You have notice of the policy, so by continuing to work while knowing of it, you can be considered to have consented to it
2) It only affects your earnings going forward from when you are late, not retroactively for work already done (which would be illegal).
Since employers can reduce employee wages for work not yet done to discipline employees, this is legal. So long as the wage never goes minimum, this is legal.
The solution is fairly obvious, assuming you want to keep this job and not find a different one: show up early for work--give yourself some margin to make sure you get there on time. Even if you can't actually clock in and start working (and earning) early, get there ahead of time and get a cup of coffee. Remember:  an employer could also simply fire you for being late; being late to work is never a safe or acceptable thing.

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