Can an employee not pay you until the next quarter hour for being one minute late?

UPDATED: Mar 22, 2012

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Can an employee not pay you until the next quarter hour for being one minute late?

Just received a call from office manager today stating if you are 1 minute late you will not be paid until the next quarter hour. For example, due in at 9:00 am, punch in at 9:01 am, don’t start getting aid until 9:15 am. When asked that if I punched in a minute late today would this be in effect, answer was yes. Is this legal and without notice just a phone call?

Asked on March 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, this is probably not legal. Employees must be paid for all time worked; employers must keep accurate time records (e.g. not ignore 14 minutes); and while the law accepts that perfect accuracy is impossible, the system or policies must be as accurate as reasonably possible and must not regularly reduce pay (e.g sometimes, "rounding" time should increase pay by a few minutes).

So, say your employer rounded your time to the nearest quarter hour; that means that if you were were up to 7 or so minutes late, your time were rounded down, giving you more pay, whereas 8 or more minutes late, your time was rounded up and you received less--that would likely be legal, since it does not systematically cut against employees. Or if they always rouned up to the nearest 5 minutes, that would likely be legal, since at most you'd have 4 mintues (1/15th of an hour) at stake. But to systematically and regularly deprive employees of up to almost a quarter-hour of pay (14 minutes) is most likely illegal.

You may wish to either consult with an employment lawyer or contact your state department of labor.

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 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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