Can my employer refuse to give me my paycheck because I forgot to punch in or out?

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Can my employer refuse to give me my paycheck because I forgot to punch in or out?

We get our checks on Wednesday. However my check was not out for me. When I asked where it was I was told I had failed to punch out one of the days and would have to come in on Thursday to explain and apologize. Other than quitting, what can I do? This has happened 3 times already.

Asked on July 22, 2011 Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, the employer has no right to withhold paychecks for work you have provably done. The employer must pay you your wages. On the other hand, if you failed to punch out properly on a day:

1) It may be that the employer can dispute how much you should be paid for that particular day, since there are no accurate or complete time records (though he has to pay you for your other days).

2) Unless you have a contract, bear in mind that you are an employee at will and may be fired at any time, for any reason. So you could certainly be fired, or otherwise disciplined (e.g. suspended; hours or shifts cut; etc.) for failing to punch in. In terms of deciding how to respond to your boss, remember therefore that he or she could fire you if he or she wants.


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