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Docked wages in Arkansas

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  • Docked wages in Arkansas

    Hello, people. I first went Googling to find an answer to my questions - but so far, I've not found real answers.

    I work in a factory which runs 24/7, and I'm on third shift maintenance. Our hours worked are tracked by a time clock. We are required to take a 30 minute break for lunch, and we are required to clock out, and clock in at the beginning and end of that break. So far, no real problems.

    The clock that we use prints out the time, in a nice readable manner, most of the day. However, between the hours of 1:00 AM and 4:00 AM, the clock movement doesn't move far enough on the card to make legible clock-out/clock-in times.

    The payroll lady has always said that she could read the time, even though it prints on top of the already printed clock time. However - SOME employees have noticed the illegible times, and are taking advantage of that. They will clock out, wait a minute or two, then clock in, leaving a smudged mess. Then, they leave the plant, and may or may not return on time.

    Effective immediately, the new rule is, if the times aren't legible to the payroll lady, then you will be docked 1 full hour.

    The above is a situation that affects all of third shift - first and second shift are unaffected, because the clock actually moves often enough, and far enough to make legible times. (I think it works in 15 minute increments during the day - but the three hours in question it moves far less often) This affects third shift only.

    Remember - I said that I work in maintenance. I am the only maintenance man on the premises for 8 hours each day.

    Often times, when I find time to take my lunch break, I'll clock out, only to be paged by the loudspeakers to a problem spot in the plant. Sometimes, I'll punch the clock as I pass through the area, other times, I don't clock back in at all. GENERALLY, the shift supervisor initials my card, indicating that I had my 1/2 hour lunch break. Sometimes, the shift super gets busy, and fails to initial the card.

    Other times, I get no lunch break, as I am hopping from one minor emergency to another all night long.

    Monday, I got no lunch break at all. There is no clock-out time, or clock in time, on my card.

    Our payroll lady marked my card with "1 hr lunch".

    We went through this a few months ago, when she did this to me. I informed her that it was NOT LEGAL to dock anyone's wages, unless and until she had contacted that person and/or that person's supervisor to establish the facts. At that time, she told me that of course it was legal, because she had no way of knowing how long I was gone, if I didn't clock back in.

    Bottom line is, I don't believe the law allows payroll to make arbitrary decisions like this. If she is to take time off my time card, she MUST discuss it with me, and get my agreement, in the form of my initials on the time card. If I disagree with her, then she MUST pay me for time recorded.

    Any advice and/or references to actual law would be very much appreciated!
    Last edited by Runaway1956; 02-23-2011, 07:23 AM. Reason: grammar, syntax

  • #2
    You must be paid for all time worked, the inadequacy of the time clock printing not withstanding. This is black letter law.

    Keep your own records, at home, a paper notebook is fine. At some point, you can file a claim for the unpaid wages with the state DOL.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


    • #3
      BTW, however, you are wrong that the law requires that you be contacted before she can make changes to your card. It's not making changes that is illegal - it's not paying you for all the time you worked. Nothing in the law says you have to be paid for all the time that's on your card; it says you have to pay for all time worked. There is a difference.

      As an example; let's suppose that you were late and one of your co-workers clocked you in half an hour before you arrived. It would be 100% legal for the payroll office to deduct that half hour, since you did not actually work it, with or without notifying you. In that case, you would still be paid for all the time you actually worked; the time being docked would be time that you didn't really work even though it's on your time card.

      So while you were right about the spirit of the law, you were wrong about the letter of it. Wise to be sure about both before taking to firm a stand.
      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
        Thank you Pattymd. I may just print several of those forms out, and leave them lying in the break room. That should generate some talk, LOL

        CBG, thanks for your input. You're making me think about how I use terms and so forth. I can see that it may not be necessary for me to initial that card when she makes changes. However, I do believe that she needs to contact me and/or my supervisor, before doing so. Had the woman talked to my supervisor, then she (my supervisor) could have assured her that I did indeed work all 8 3/4 hours, without a lunch break.

        I think what I'm getting at is, it is (or should be) incumbent upon the payroll officer(s) to verify, in some manner, that I did or did not work for whatever period they are questioning. (Putting myself in the payroll officer's position, I would sure hate to have the state come in for an inspection of my records, and I had failed to DOCUMENT any reason for docking an hour here, and an hour there!)

        In your example, for a payroll officer to know that my coworker had clocked me in early, she would have to KNOW about it. Perhaps a camera monitoring the time clock, or a supervisor made note of my late arrival, or a co-worker snitched. In any case, payroll would have to learn about it, and document it in some manner. (Of course, having someone else clock me in would be a termination offense, for me and the coworker who punched my time card. And, reasonably so, I might add.)


        • #5
          SHOULD she contact you and the supervisor first? Quite possibly. It would certainly make life easier if she did.

          Is she violating the law by not doing so? No, she is not. One more time, there is NO law stating that she has to contact you OR your supervisor before she makes changes. In the specific instance you've described, there is a violation but it was NOT making the change without contacting you.
          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.


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