Under what conditions can an employer withhold an hourly employee’s paycheck?

UPDATED: Oct 8, 2011

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Under what conditions can an employer withhold an hourly employee’s paycheck?

I am a licensed electrician and own my own business. Each employee is required to complete a job sheet for each job he is sent on. Employees are paid hourly. These sheets are necessary for billing the customer and keeping track of inventory. It lets me know what job he was on, how long the job took, what materials were used, travel time, etc. If an employee does not complete these sheets, can I withhold his pay for the time of that job that he does not complete the sheet for?

Asked on October 8, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the job sheets are necessary to calculate the employee's wages --e.g. the employee works offsite, so you have no other way of determining his or her hours, and the job sheet is the only source of information about hours worked--you can withhold pay until provided with the information you need to calculate it.

On the other hand, if you *could* pay the employee without the job sheet--i.e. you know his or her hours worked--and you "just" need the job sheets for your own bookkeeping, administrative, and accounting purposes (e.g. to know who to charge; to know what portion of the bill is labor, and what portion materials; etc.) then you can't withhold pay. If you can pay the employee, you must; what you can do to an employee who doesn't provide you the documenation you need and they are supposed to is to discipline (e.g. suspend, demote, etc.) or terminate him or her.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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