Time worked

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Time worked

I am currently working as an subcontractor for an independent contractor. Recently, when I make mistakes, the lady I work for has been insisting that I subtract time off of my hours worked to compensate for them. Her logic is that we should not be charging the client for our mistakes. We get paid by the hour. I want to know if this is even legal?

Asked on March 13, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First of all, an employee is entitled to be paid for all hours worked. Also, arguably time off hours worked is a form of paycheck deduction. Federal law is that deductions can’t reduce an employee's pay below the minimum wage. This rule applies regardless of what state you live in, however many states provide additional protection in these circumstances.
Most states classify chareagable “mistakes” as 1) cash or cash register shortages, 2) damaged, broken or lost equipment, or 3) accepting bad checks. The rule for just what an employer can do regarding such mistakes vary but typically an employer needs their employee's consent to deduct from their pay. Additionally, there can be no deductcions for any other type of mistake; for those an employer can choose to otherwise discipline the employee, terminate them and/or possibly sue them.
In WA, deductions for chargeable mistakes can only be made from an employee's final paycheck and cannot be "saved up" from previous pay periods. For further information, you can contact your state's department of labor and/or consult with a local employment law attorney.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Your retroactive compensation--i.e., compensation for work you have already done--cannot be reduced; you must be paid at the then-agreed-upon rate for the work you did. Going forward, your rate can be reduced for making mistakes or your hours could be cut; or, for that matter, you could be suspended or even terminated. So your employer can make you "pay" for your mistakes in one way or another, as long as it is only on a forward-looking or prospective basis; what they can't do is to reduce the pay you have already earned.


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