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Docking Pay for Late Timesheet? North Carolina

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  • Docking Pay for Late Timesheet? North Carolina

    I'm a salaried exempt, fulltime employee at a non-profit agency in North Carolina. My agency has a policy in place, which we all have to sign upon hire, that says if we turn in our timesheet late, we will be paid minimum wage for the hours on the late timesheet. We never get to recover that pay, it's a penalty for turning in your timesheet late.

    As a salaried exempt employee, it was my understanding that under CFR 541 that a salaried exempt employee must receive their full salary (assuming they worked the full work week/40 hours) and that an employee can be penalized for improper deductions of pay.

    I turned in my timesheet late 2 weeks ago, was notified I would be paid minimum wage and sure enough, on my paycheck today, I was paid 40 hours at $7.25 and 40 hours at my regular salaried rate of pay. I've certainly learned a lesson about turning in my timesheet on-time, however from my online research, it looks like my employer is violating labor laws.

    Any thoughts/suggestions/comments/help?


  • #2
    Here's the text from the policy (with agency name omited)...

    Timesheet Agreement

    I have received a copy of the ***** pay schedule and understand that it is my responsibility to complete and submit my timesheets and any supporting documentation to my supervisor by the due dates. I understand that, per policy, if I fail to submit my timesheet by the due date my supervisor is required to estimate the number of hours I have worked based upon my scheduled work hours and these estimated hours will be paid at minimum wage. Once the actual timesheet is received by payroll, an adjustment will be made if the number of hours worked is different from the number of hours estimated by the supervisor. Any adjustments will also be paid at minimum wage.


    • #3
      I'll leave it to one of the payroll people to determine whether or not the fact that you received prior notification of the decrease would make this a violation or not.

      However, I will point out that even if the pay reduction is illegal, the employer could legally take other action that does not affect your pay, up to and including termination. While it would be extreme, it would be legal.
      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.


      • #4
        Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that a disciplinary action would be appropriate, and in fact our agency has a very clear progressive discipline policy (verbal warning, written warning, etc), which I think I deserved to receive. What I don't think is ok, is for them to dock my pay. From what I can find online, it appears that they can't dock pay for reasons of quality or quantity of work for a salaried exempt employee. But, I wanted to check it out on here with the payroll specialists to see what they think.

        Again, thanks for your help!


        • #5
          The notification of decrease may be sufficient in your state.


          Reducing you to minimum wage would invalidate your exempt status for the period for which MW was paid. Salaried exempt employees must be paid a guaranteed weekly salary of at least $455/wk. If they are not, they are not exempt for that period and overtime would need to be paid.

          Simple resolution, however. Turn in your timesheets on time. It's not an unreasonable requirement.
          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


          • #6
            When I looked online on CFR 541, Subpart G...

            Subpart G—Salary Requirements

            it looked to me as if my employer cannot dock pay for disciplinary reasons, unless they are going to not pay me for an entire day. It also looks like they can't dock my pay for reduced quality or quantity of work. Which means to me, to pay me for a full 40 hours, but at $7.25, is not allowable under Federal Labor Laws. Am I correct in my interpretation?

            I completely understand that I should be disciplined for turning in a timesheet late, but I want to make sure that the discipline given me is correct, under the labor laws. I would have preferred to have received a write up or something along those lines, but they didn't write me up, they just took most of my pay away.

            And yes, I've definitely learned my lesson and will be turning it in on-time from now on.

            Thanks for your help!


            • #7
              They can dock your pay for disciplinary reasons if the violation is known to the employees and applies to all employees. If you notice, the last update to that regulation on the DOL site was 8/23/04 and it has not been updated since the August 2004 amendments. But, that's a moot point, since they aren't docking, they are reducing your pay to minimum wage, which violates the salary basis test for salaried exempt employees; i.e. being paid a fixed guaranteed salary per week, regardless of "quantity and quality" of work.
              a predetermined amount constituting all or part of the
              employee's compensation, which amount is not subject to reduction
              because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed.
              In addition, doing so could certainly indicate that they never meant to treat you as an exempt employee in the first place, which could cause the DOL to invalidate the exemption altogether.
              I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


              • #8
                Thanks for the link. I'm a "Clinical Social Worker" which is just a different name for a mental health therapist. Does my role as a "medical professional" play a role in this? I was reading the information in your link and it looks like there are some different rules for medical professionals. Does my role as a therapist affect my employer's ability to be able to reduce my pay to minimum wage, while I'm a salaried exempt employee?

                Your information has been very helpful. Thanks again!
                Last edited by rsjordan7; 11-14-2010, 03:01 PM. Reason: forgot to add my follow-up question


                • #9
                  No, not as long as they are paying you a fixed salary.
                  I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.