Is it legal for my employer to dock my pay for being only a minute late if I am paid hourly?

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Is it legal for my employer to dock my pay for being only a minute late if I am paid hourly?

For example, if I have to be at work at 8, and I clock in at 8:01 or 8:02 can they still dock me pay? I am paid hourly so it doesn’t make sense. I clock in at 8:02 and clock out at 1:00 for lunch, then clock back in at 2:00 and then clock out when work ends at 5:30, shouldn’t my employer have to pay me for the time I am clocked in and working? How can they take pay away for time that I am clocked in and working? They already wouldn’t be paying me for the time I’m off the clock, so how can it be legal for them to take money I have rightfully earned?

Asked on October 14, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) You have to be paid for all time worked--period, end of sentence. If you are working, you have to be paid.

2) You don't have to paid for time not working. So if, for example, someone clocks in at 8:06 and clocks out at 4:00 pm, then they should be paid for working 7 hours and 54 minutes--which means that if they were at a rate of $10.00 per hour, they'd receive $79 for the day (they missed one tenth of an hour, or $1.00 in pay).

3) Normally, employers should not track things down to the minute, since there is some inaccuracy. It's more common for them to use 5 or 6 minute intervals to capture time. Also, employers can't "round" or otherwise track time in a way that benefits them--for example, if an employee is 5 minutes late, they can't dock them for a quarter hour of pay.

In theory, I suppose, if the employer is rigorously and completely fairly tracking time, they if an employee is 2 minutes late, they could be paid 2/60, or 1/30, less for that hour (unless they then worked an extra 2 min. later). However, that's a practice they're disauded from, since again, it's difficult to be that fair, that consistent, or that accurate. But it's not necessarily a wage and hour violation to truly pay someone for the exact time he or she worked, if it could be tracked. What they couldn't do is dock more than the actual time the employee missed.


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