Can my husband’s employer dock his pay each time he is late if he’s a commissioned employee?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my husband’s employer dock his pay each time he is late if he’s a commissioned employee?

He is a master plumber and makes a percentage off of each job that he does. He is dispatched by the office, goes to the customer’s house, diagnoses problem, sells the job to the customer and then completes it.

Asked on December 19, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If any part of your husband's pay is hourly, that part or portion of his pay cannot be docked (though of course, he only has to be paid for the time actually on the job: if he works 10 minutes less because he's late, that's 10 minutes less he has to be paid for). The law is very clear that hourly employees must be paid for the time they work and may not be docked additional time or pay.
However, commissions are different. Commissions are not protected the same way since they are not time based and are governed by the commission structure. That commission structure can (and in many contexts does) have bonuses or kickers for high performance or going above and beyond, such as for upselling services or good customer ratings. On the other hand, the commission structure can also have things that reduce the commission, such as low customer ratings or customer dissatisfaction or, as here, being late to a job or work. So if the reduction comes about by reducing your husband's commission or percentage of the job price when he is late, that would be legal.

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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