Can an employee not pay you until the next quarter hour for being one minute late?

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Can an employee not pay you until the next quarter hour for being one minute late?

Just received a call from office manager today stating if you are 1 minute late you will not be paid until the next quarter hour. For example, due in at 9:00 am, punch in at 9:01 am, don’t start getting aid until 9:15 am. When asked that if I punched in a minute late today would this be in effect, answer was yes. Is this legal and without notice just a phone call?

Asked on March 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, this is probably not legal. Employees must be paid for all time worked; employers must keep accurate time records (e.g. not ignore 14 minutes); and while the law accepts that perfect accuracy is impossible, the system or policies must be as accurate as reasonably possible and must not regularly reduce pay (e.g sometimes, "rounding" time should increase pay by a few minutes).

So, say your employer rounded your time to the nearest quarter hour; that means that if you were were up to 7 or so minutes late, your time were rounded down, giving you more pay, whereas 8 or more minutes late, your time was rounded up and you received less--that would likely be legal, since it does not systematically cut against employees. Or if they always rouned up to the nearest 5 minutes, that would likely be legal, since at most you'd have 4 mintues (1/15th of an hour) at stake. But to systematically and regularly deprive employees of up to almost a quarter-hour of pay (14 minutes) is most likely illegal.

You may wish to either consult with an employment lawyer or contact your state department of labor.


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