Can my employer change the time I’ve clocked in and out if they don’t like the quality of my work?

UPDATED: May 30, 2011

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Can my employer change the time I’ve clocked in and out if they don’t like the quality of my work?

I am a hourly, minimum wage employee. My boss docked my pay because she feels my “quality” is not up to her standards. No damages, etc but she sites low quality. She is changing the time I clock out and only paying for the time she feels I’ve earned. Is this legal?

Asked on May 30, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The general rule is that employers may not change anything on a timecard. It must show accurate hours of work and is a legal document. If a timecard is used, employees should be required to sign it (in pen) to confirm that they worked the hours posted. Also, their signature confirms that the time reported is correct. If something is incorrect or missing, a change may be made typically if it is accompanied by the employee's signature.

Additionally, timecard deductions (like payroll deductions) can't just be made arbitrarily. Unless there is an union/employment contract or stated employment policy indicating that your employer can dock you time for poor workmanship or like errors, such a deduction is illegal. An employee must be paid for all time worked. Even if it can require a reduction of this kind due to a contract or other agreement (as noted above), your employer cannot simply deduct hours without notice. 

Note:  However, in an "at will" employment situation (and most employment arrangements are), an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all.

At this point you should contact IL's department of labor as to your legal rights/remedies.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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