Can an employer deduct time from your pay even though you worked that time?

UPDATED: Nov 28, 2011

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Can an employer deduct time from your pay even though you worked that time?

My ex-employer has a habit of deducting more time than actually should be raken. If you clock in at 7:52, they don’t start paying you until 8:00. They always round it to the next quarter hour. Is this legal for them to do?

Asked on November 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No, it's not legal.

The law does not expect perfection of employers: being off by 1 - 2 minutes, say, in keeping time, as long as the error is random (sometimes in the employer's favor, sometimes in yours) will not cause an trouble.

But rounding to the next 15 minutes is too long--that goes beyond what is generally considered acceptable. And if that policy more often than not works in the employer's favor, so it's usually the employee losing time, that is illegal, too.

Hourly employees should be paid for all hours worked. If you have consistently lost time--and losing, say, 8 minutes a day means losing 2 hours of pay every 3 weeks--you may have a claim for the unpaid wages. You could contact the labor department and/or consult with an employment law attorney.

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