If I’m an hourly employee, can my employer dock my pay for arriving 1 or 2 minutes late to work?

UPDATED: Aug 18, 2011

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If I’m an hourly employee, can my employer dock my pay for arriving 1 or 2 minutes late to work?

For example: if I’m 5 minutes late on 1 or 2 days out of the work week, can my employer dock me 15 minutes of pay for each infraction?

Asked on August 18, 2011 Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Hourly employees should be paid for the hours worked--no more and no less. Therefore, if you are 5 minutes late, you would not be paid for those 5 minutes--that is both legal and reasonable. However, an employer is not allowed to dock an employee for more time, especially significantly more  time, than he or she is actually late; so if you are late for 5 minutes, you should lose 5 minutes of pay--not three times that, or 15 minutes.

First thing to do is make sure you're being honest with yourself--check that you actually are only 5 minutes late, and not 12 or so, when you are docked 15 minutes. Assuming that you are right, then you might have a legal claim. You could theoretically sue for the money you're owed, though it may not be worthwhile, or contact the state department of labor about the violation.

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