Is it legal for my employer to dock my pay for being only a minute late if I am paid hourly? Read more http// Under Creative Commons License Attribution Follo

my boss requires me to arrive at work 15 min early. He said if I keep arriving at 5 min till the hour, I will be docked 1/2 hour of work. He also said if I clock in one min. late, he will dock me one whole hour. What should I do?
I work at Shell gas station and am a reliable good worker.

Asked on April 6, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have an employment agreement or union contract that states otherwise, a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit (absent some form of actionble discrimination). This includes how to discipline an employee and what for. That having been said, federal law provides an exception to this. All hourly employees must be paid for all time they work. This means that a worker must be paid from when they clock in, not from when their shift officially begins. Further, if they are an hourly employee they are more than likely "non-exempt" which means that they are to be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 in their work week.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

This is illegal. There are many things an employer can do if an employee is late--or indeed, at any time, for any reason, unless the employee has a wirtten employment contract protecting his/her job (without a contract, you are an "employee at will"): terminate him or her for tardiness; suspend him/her; reduce wage or salary going forward; cut hours; etc. But the one thing they can't do is dock your pay for being late: hourly employees must be paid for all time worked--that's the law (e.g. the Fair Labor Standards Act). And more: you have to be paid from when you clock in, not when your shift official starts, so if you clock in 5 minutes early, they need to pay you for 5 extra minutes. (And don't forget: if you work more than 40 hours in a week and you are hourly, you must be paid overtime for all time past 40 hours.)
If your employer does not pay you for all the time you work, contact the state department of labor to file a wage and hour complaint.

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