Is it legal for a company to subtract an hours work for clocking in 10 minutes late?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Is it legal for a company to subtract an hours work for clocking in 10 minutes late?

I am a salaried worker. My employer just started a new policy that if an employee is late to clocking in from lunch, a total of 10 minutes throughout the week or 10 minutes in a single day, they will lose their paid 1 hour lunch from their paycheck for that day. This holds true even if the employee is back from lunch on time and is working but forgot to clock back in. I did some research and isn’t this violating the FLSA?

Asked on August 22, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You are correct: it is a violation of the FLSA. Hourly employees must be paid for all work done and cannot be docked more pay (including by losing paid lunch) than the actual time they missed. So say you are 15 minutes late: clearly, the employer does not need to pay you those 15 minutes, but cannot take away an hour of pay (the one hour paid lunch). If an employer does this, you could file a complaint with your state or the federal department of labor.
If you are late, there things the employer can do: suspend you; demote you; give you a less desirable shift or job; even terminate you. All those things are legal if you don't have a contract guarantying or protecting your job (without a contract, you are an "employee at will"). But docking pay in any fashion is not permitted.

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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