Can my husband’s employer dock his pay each time he is late if he’s a commissioned employee?

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Can my husband’s employer dock his pay each time he is late if he’s a commissioned employee?

He is a master plumber and makes a percentage off of each job that he does. He is dispatched by the office, goes to the customer’s house, diagnoses problem, sells the job to the customer and then completes it.

Asked on December 19, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If any part of your husband's pay is hourly, that part or portion of his pay cannot be docked (though of course, he only has to be paid for the time actually on the job: if he works 10 minutes less because he's late, that's 10 minutes less he has to be paid for). The law is very clear that hourly employees must be paid for the time they work and may not be docked additional time or pay.
However, commissions are different. Commissions are not protected the same way since they are not time based and are governed by the commission structure. That commission structure can (and in many contexts does) have bonuses or kickers for high performance or going above and beyond, such as for upselling services or good customer ratings. On the other hand, the commission structure can also have things that reduce the commission, such as low customer ratings or customer dissatisfaction or, as here, being late to a job or work. So if the reduction comes about by reducing your husband's commission or percentage of the job price when he is late, that would be legal.


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