The Mailbag.

PositionLetter to the editor

Can we dock pay for punching in late? Does the employee have a grace period?

Q Is there a rule for docking someone's pay if he punches in late, and if so, how many minutes grace time does he get before you dock him 15 minutes?

A First, you may not dock pay for exempt employees in the way you describe. If an exempt employee clocks in late, you may discipline him/her under your company policies, but you may not dock his/her pay.

Assuming the question pertains only to nonexempt employees, you only need pay employees for their actual hours worked. For example, if nonexempt employees clock in 15 minutes late, you do not need to pay them for those 15 minutes.

It sounds as if your question is also asking about "rounding" practices. In some industries, employers track employee hours in 15-minute increments (or five minutes or one-tenth of an hour). The Fair Labor Standards Act allows an employer to round employee hours in this way.

However, it is a violation of the FLSA to always round down. For example, an employer can dock employees by a full quarter hour if they start work more than seven minutes after the start of their scheduled shift, as long the employees' time is rounded up a full quarter hour when the employees start working from eight to 14 minutes before their shift or if the employee works from eight to 14 minutes beyond the scheduled end of their shift. See 29 CFR 785.48.

What can we do? We overpaid part-timer, who knew it and didn't come forward

Q Because of a human error in our payroll department, one of our part-time employees has been receiving a full-time salary for the past six months. Although we recently realized our mistake, the employee never came forward to let us know about the error. Aside from recouping the funds, what actions, if any, can we take against this employee for not being forthcoming?

A You should consider disciplinary action against the employee, up to and...

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