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Late Timesheets? No paycheck! Legal anywhere? (New Jersey)

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  • Late Timesheets? No paycheck! Legal anywhere? (New Jersey)

    Can someone help me solve a debate I'm having?

    I am trying to find out if any states allow an employer to withhold a paycheck if a timesheet isn't turned in. I think it is illegal in every state not to pay on the regular paydate and she is saying it is legal in some states.

    I'm basing my opinion on this:
    "Wages required by the FLSA are due on the regular payday for the pay period covered."

    I haven't found a single state that allows it but I admit that I haven't visited all 50 state websites. I've asked her for cites but I thought I'd ask the experts here in the meantime.


  • #2
    Forget State law - in this instance federal law will prevail because it overrides any State laws that are "less generous" to an employee (assuming any State law says an employer can pay late if a timesheet isn't turned in, which I've NEVER heard of.)

    You cannot withhold a paycheck as a punishment for turning in a time card late or failing to turn it in at all. If the employer knows the employee worked, the MUST be paid, even if you have to estimate hours. No law prevents an employer from estimating low however.

    The solution to someone violating company rules (in this case, turning their timesheet in when required) is to discipline the employee. Not withhold their paycheck.

    If you have a colleague telling you it's legal in some States to withhold paychecks AND that this is also legal under federal law (both would have to apply), let her waste her time trying to find the legal cites.


    • #3
      Nope, if they work, and you know that they worked, you have to pay them. You can cancel direct deposit, write themup, suspend them, fire them or take some other action for not turning it in on time but you do have to pay them.
      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


      • #4
        Withholding paychecks? No, absolutely not, in any state.

        Estimate hours (if unknown) and estimate low? That's okay in any state.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


        • #5
          Agreed. I have done payroll in pretty much all states (some of those were one person payrolls), and to my knowledge, no state allows the employer to hold back payments to co-coerce the timesheets. Very much agree with asking your "expert" to cite their sources. If they really are expert, that should be considered a reasonable request.

          - It is perfectly legal (and reasonable) to FIRE people who fail to turn in their timesheets when asked. It is perfectly legal to do many other things, such as send people home unpaid until they get their timesheets current. Or even more radical, tell the lazy supervisors to start doing their job for a change.
          - While this employer action is illegal in all states, the question is just how illegal? I have some experience with employers deliberately paying employees late (occasionally very late) and it is interesting just how soft the penalty laws (if any) are in many/most states. There is a famous legal quote (paraphrasing) that laws which are not enforced are not really laws. So yes this is illegal, but most states will not take it very seriously. And I have no idea what NJ views are on this.

          Yes the employer should pay on time, but yes the employee should hand in the bleeping timesheet. This is IMO an example of both parties behaving badly.


          Told this story before, but a company I was working for had a 1,000+ hourly employees and a major time accounting problem. Manufacturing tried for years to fix this without success. New President came in and told them to fix. Was told cannot be done. He picked three line supervisor names (at random). Fired one, suspended the other two without pay for a week. Told Manufacturing that he was going to fire one supervisor (at random) each week until the problem was fixed. Guess what. It got fixed almost immediately.

          The OP's employer has a supervisor problem. Someone who is not doing THEIR job. Make the supervisor manage their employees. If the problem is not fixed, fire the employee AND their supervisor. Problem solved.

          But yes, the employer cannot legally hold the paycheck. This is not just illegal, it is bad management.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


          • #6

            Thanks everyone. You've confirmed what I thought.