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Employer withholds pay if papers aren't filled out correctly- Pennsylvania

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  • Employer withholds pay if papers aren't filled out correctly- Pennsylvania

    My new employer has a policy where I have to fill out my hours worked each day on one ticket. Then how that time was spent (what jobs I worked on and for how long) has to be filled out on another paper. They say if my time worked and how the time spent doesn't match up, I won't get paid for the day. NEVER. This has occurred to other employees. One person said he has been sc****d out of 90 hours of OT because of the technicalities in the filling out of the paperwork re: how they spent their days.

    Can my employer legally do this? I thought that by law I have to be paid for my hours worked, no matter what.

    If I make a mistake on the details paper of how the time was spent, is it legal for them to never pay me? Of course I want to fill out everything correctly, but I'm finding out they make a habit of not paying people for little mistakes on these papers.

    I just don't want to work a hard day, then not get paid for it because of a small mistake on the jobs I worked sheet. Something that could easily be fixed, but apparently they don't care if it can be fixed, or if it gets fixed, this is how they punish their workers who don't fill out paperwork properly.

    Thanks for any advice.

  • #2
    Non-exempt employees have to be paid for all time/hours worked & OT when
    necessary. The employer can discipline employees, for not filling out the forms
    (paper work) correctly, up to & including termination. They do have to pay for
    all time worked though.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

    Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

    Comment


    • #3
      Short answer is not legal. If you are not paid for hours worked, there are legal venues in which you can file a wage claim or some type of court action.

      Longer answer. It is perfectly legal for the employer to fire you or otherwise make your life a misery for failing to follow a perfectly legal work rule. Not paying anything for an entire day is not a legal option for the employer but there are many legal options they can use that you will not find more comfortable.. If you just follow the work rule, problem is solved. And one way or the other, you are either going to follow the work rule or you are gone.

      However, file a wage claim with PA DOL (or whatever PA calls their department of labor) and you will eventually get paid.

      If your employer has any brains at all (and the jury is still out on that), they will use a different and legal method to force compliance with the work rule. For example, assuming that you normally are paid more then minimum wage, it would be perfectly legal if done correctly to pay you only MW on those days you mess up. The employer has a very broad range of legal options here. The fact that they are going out of their way to pick an illegal option mostly makes them really dumb.
      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

      Comment


      • #4
        Contains info on filing a wage claim Pa.

        http://www.workplacefairness.org/wag...m-PA?agree=yes
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks to everyone who has responded. I thought I had to be paid for time worked. I realized by being a sqeaky wheel about this policy, I could get fired or be treated unfairly. I'll have to figure out how to handle this. It hasn't happened to me yet. I just wanted to check ahead of time whether it was legal.

          Thanks again! All were very helpful responses.

          Comment


          • #6
            You're welcome.
            Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

            Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by DAW View Post
              For example, assuming that you normally are paid more then minimum wage, it would be perfectly legal if done correctly to pay you only MW on those days you mess up.
              Would someone mind explaining the above? How is "if done correctly" actually "done correctly?"

              How is it that an employer can pay mee minimum wage if paperwork I do is completed incorrectly? Can I get an irs.gov link on this? I've never heard of this except for the day before I posted my question and someone asked in a forum if an employer can take money out of their pay if they broke a refrigerator, and the reply was the employer can, as long as the employee still got at least minimum wage.

              This baffles me. I thought to withhold anything from an employee's paycheck (except for taxes), an employee must explicitly agree in writing to the deduction. For example, dues for a union--an employee signs they agree to a union dues deduction. Or, health insurance--I signed a form agreeing that helath insurance would be withheld from my paycheck. But, from what I understand, if an employee breaks something, they have to sign something agreeing to the cost of it to be withheld from their paycheck.

              I haven't heard anything about it being OK for an employer to withhold money from a paycheck as long as the employee still gets at least minimum wage. So if someone can point me to where to get this info (what topic is it considered to be under with the IRS, or anything to help me read about this), I'd really appreciate it!

              Comment


              • #8
                It depends on how the compensation is structured. Let's say that someone who knoww what they were doing ahead of time sets up the following.
                - Bob will be paid at least minimum wage. Plus the overtime premium if applicable.
                - If Bob meets certain objective work criteria, which includes turning in the timesheet filed out correctly, then Bob will be paid an additional non-discretionary bonus bringing hourly pay up to $10/hr.
                - Docking pay is often not legal, although this is often a "read the fine print", since state and federal rules are not uniform on this point. HOWEVER!!! paying MW is always legal as long as that was what the original agreement was. And paying more then MW is always legal. So if we have a smart employer who before any work is done informs our employee about the above rules, then we have a legal compensation plan in all 50 states.

                I worked at a place in the 1980s were we had 1,000 plus hourly employees, mostly in CA (with the toughest labor laws in the country). We had a $25 weekly optional ND bonus payment conditional on perfect attendance and no work rule violations for the week. We had several employees challenge this through CA-DLSE and they lost.

                One more time. The employer requiring the employee to jump through specific timesheet requirements is legal, moral and non-fattening. Not paying the employee for time worked is NOT illegal, but the employer has many, many legal ways to coerce the employee into following the workrules. And the government is fine with the employer doing so, as long as legal methods are used.
                "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DAW View Post
                  It depends on how the compensation is structured. Let's say that someone who knoww what they were doing ahead of time sets up the following.
                  - Bob will be paid at least minimum wage. Plus the overtime premium if applicable.
                  - If Bob meets certain objective work criteria, which includes turning in the timesheet filed out correctly, then Bob will be paid an additional non-discretionary bonus bringing hourly pay up to $10/hr.
                  - Docking pay is often not legal, although this is often a "read the fine print", since state and federal rules are not uniform on this point. HOWEVER!!! paying MW is always legal as long as that was what the original agreement was. And paying more then MW is always legal. So if we have a smart employer who before any work is done informs our employee about the above rules, then we have a legal compensation plan in all 50 states.

                  I worked at a place in the 1980s were we had 1,000 plus hourly employees, mostly in CA (with the toughest labor laws in the country). We had a $25 weekly optional ND bonus payment conditional on perfect attendance and no work rule violations for the week. We had several employees challenge this through CA-DLSE and they lost.

                  One more time. The employer requiring the employee to jump through specific timesheet requirements is legal, moral and non-fattening. Not paying the employee for time worked is NOT illegal, but the employer has many, many legal ways to coerce the employee into following the workrules. And the government is fine with the employer doing so, as long as legal methods are used.
                  Thanks. So this would have had to be set up ahead of time, and communicated to employees?

                  Must it be in writing?

                  The employees I'm referring to get anywhere from $12-$25 per hour and they're non-exempt (paid hourly with OT after 40 hrs/week). We were told that if we sc****d up the paperwork, we just don't get paid for the day. ZERO. And employees have told me this has happened to them.

                  You wrote: "Not paying the employee for time worked is NOT illegal..."
                  Are you sure about that. I thought not paying for time worked IS illegal.

                  What does "non-fattening" mean?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JimmyJazz4 View Post
                    Must it be in writing?
                    Different states have different rules. Some states are less then clear on just what their rules are. The feds do not require it to be in writing because the feds literally do not care about any wages in excess of MW/OT. There is some advantage to putting compensation policy in writing because it becomes easier to support just what the compensation policy is if challenged in court. But no there is no 50 state rule that the compensation policy must be in writing.

                    Reguarding the unpaid time, that is sort of a "read the fine print" situation. Example. Bob is paid $10/hr. Bob works 40 hours but is only paid for 32 hours $320). Bob feels he should be paid for all 40 hours. Lets say Bob files a federal wage claim. Under federal rules (FLSA), Bob must be paid at least federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr on average for all hours worked in the workweek. That is $290 under the federal rules. But Bob is already paid $320. The federal rules do not say that Bob must be paid at least minimum wage for each and every hour worked. The feds instead say that over the course of the entire workweek, the average rate must be at least minimum wage. There is no federal MW violation in this example even though Bob is not paid 8 hours. Under FLSA the employer has not broken any laws (this time) by not paying Bob those 8 hours. Change the facts slightly however and maybe the answer changes.

                    Does this mean that not paying Bob is legal? Probably not. State law is still an issue. Some states have statutory labor law in this issue. And even absent state statutory labor law, we still have the good possibility of a Common Law claim. The old "we had an agreement, I did my side of the agreement, my employer did not" claim. If Bob takes his employer to say small claims court, Bob's chances are excellent.

                    HOWEVER, we have three different venues (federal DOL, state DOL, and the court system) using potentially three different theories of what the problem is. And different venues can yield different answers. Yes, not paying the promised 8 hours is likely illegal (most of the time) but it is also a function of picking the correct venue to resolve the issue. And PA is not my state, so no help there.
                    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      DAW,
                      Very insteresting post. Thank you.

                      Is there a place where I can actually read about employer's being able to change someone's pay from what they are getting (over MW) to minimum wage? I know you are saying the law requires minimum wage to be paid. But it sounds like you're saying any company, under federal law, could decide not to pay for 25 worked hours, as long as the amount finally paid for the other 15 worked hours is at least minimum wage.

                      That's a very strange federal law, then. And is seems you're saying this law doesn't really conflict with the federal law that non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked, because if the 15 hours paid equates to at least minimum wage for 40 hours (right? 40 hrs is the baseline?), an employee has no recourse. This is so strange.

                      So I need to check out PA's laws about this. And I don't have a clue where to go. Any help?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I want to add this question:

                        When I was hired I was told by the office manager my experience qualified me to be paid $19/hr plus I'll be paid a $1000 sign-on bonus. There were no terms attached to the sign on bonus.

                        After I was working for about a week, I was talking with the office manager and she said the $1000 is paid at $100 a month. I said to her I was given the impression it was paid immediately. She said "no."

                        Is there anything here that could hold weight if I filed a wage claim for the sign on bonus? Nothing is in writing about it, it was all oral.

                        Thanks.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JimmyJazz4 View Post
                          And is seems you're saying this law doesn't really conflict with the federal law that non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked, because if the 15 hours paid equates to at least minimum wage for 40 hours (right? 40 hrs is the baseline?), an employee has no recourse. This is so strange.
                          Federal law does NOT say that the employee must be paid for all hours worked. Federal law says that the employee must be paid at least minimum wage (average over the work week) and that the overtime premium must be paid on hours actually worked past 40 in the workweek. I am including a pointer to the FLSA regulations. No matter how hard you look (I am guessing not very hard), you will not find a sngle federal regulation saying that all hours worked must be paid.
                          http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text...29cfrv3_02.tpl

                          Some states do have statutory law requiring that each and every hour be paid. And in all states, a Common Law argument can be made to that effect. A generic statement that all hours must be paid is likely correct, but the responders did not say that it was a federal law requiring this. That was a rule that you made up.
                          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DAW View Post
                            Federal law does NOT say that the employee must be paid for all hours worked. Federal law says that the employee must be paid at least minimum wage (average over the work week) and that the overtime premium must be paid on hours actually worked past 40 in the workweek. I am including a pointer to the FLSA regulations. No matter how hard you look (I am guessing not very hard), you will not find a sngle federal regulation saying that all hours worked must be paid.
                            http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text...29cfrv3_02.tpl

                            Some states do have statutory law requiring that each and every hour be paid. And in all states, a Common Law argument can be made to that effect. A generic statement that all hours must be paid is likely correct, but the responders did not say that it was a federal law requiring this. That was a rule that you made up.
                            I was going by what Betty3 said: "Non-exempt employees have to be paid for all time/hours worked & OT when necessary." I took that to mean that hourly employees have to be paid for all time worked. If Betty3 is incorrect, then I made a mistake by not fact-checking what Betty3 wrote. But the point of a legal forum is to get some advice that a person can count on, at least in general. And whether or not it is a federal law that an hourly employee must be paid for all hours worked seems to be a pretty simple question that most legally-minded people would know the answer to (that are familiar with wage and hour laws). I'm not legally-minded, that's why I sought advice here. I just an average "joe." I don't know how to find these things. That's why this forum is here, isn't it? To help people like me get some basic info on a topic?

                            You have no right to imply I "made up" a law when that clearly isn't the case--I followed someone else's (who I thought knew better) lead. Now I don't know who is correct, you or Betty3.

                            From when I used to write payroll checks, I do remember that I had to pay everyone for every hour worked, at one job for every minute worked. There was never a job where I didn't pay someone for time worked. So this is all new news to me. Forgive me for not having a law degree and coming here to find a few things out. This always happens here. There's always one uppity-up that decides you don't like the poster and decide to tear him/her to shreds. Well, I hope you're happy today for claiming I made up a law when you can read through this thread and clearly see I was following what someone else had written. You offended me with a baseless accusation. That's not cool and not a way to keep up the reputation of this site.

                            BTW, that link you gave only gave me the following re: minimum wage:
                            "ยง 531.36 Nonovertime workweeks.
                            (a) When no overtime is worked by the employees, section 3(m) and this part apply only to the applicable minimum wage for all hours worked." I bolded and increased the size the phrase "for all hours worked." So the link you sent, which had a lot to do re: immigrants, agricultural workers, stuf like that, says an employee DOES have to be paid for all hours worked. So since you're the big man/woman on campus (in your head), exactly where does it NOT say that an employee must be paid for all hours worked? Now, my not being a lawyer or knowing where to look for all the right things, I could have misread this. Can you politely and with some respect tell me what I've misread, if I have? If you cannot, please do not reply.
                            Last edited by JimmyJazz4; 10-13-2011, 02:30 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Your original statement:

                              DAW,
                              Very interesting post. Thank you.

                              Is there a place where I can actually read about employer's being able to change someone's pay from what they are getting (over MW) to minimum wage? I know you are saying the law requires minimum wage to be paid. But it sounds like you're saying any company, under federal law, could decide not to pay for 25 worked hours, as long as the amount finally paid for the other 15 worked hours is at least minimum wage.

                              That's a very strange Federal law, then. And is seems you're saying this law doesn't really conflict with the federal law that non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked, because if the 15 hours paid equates to at least minimum wage for 40 hours (right? 40 hrs is the baseline?), an employee has no recourse. This is so strange.

                              So I need to check out PA's laws about this. And I don't have a clue where to go. Any help?
                              Your last statement:

                              I was going by what Betty3 said: "Non-exempt employees have to be paid for all time/hours worked & OT when necessary." I took that to mean that hourly employees have to be paid for all time worked. If Betty3 is incorrect, then I made a mistake by not fact-checking what Betty3 wrote.
                              Betty's statement is just fine because Betty did not say "federal law". You made that statement all by yourself.

                              ------

                              Your statement.
                              So since you're the big man/woman on campus (in your head), exactly where does it NOT say that an employee must be paid for all hours worked? Now, my not being a lawyer or knowing where to look for all the right things, I could have misread this. Can you politely and with some respect tell me what I've misread, if I have? If you cannot, please do not reply.
                              The federal FLSA law was passed in the late 1930s. At the time, there were a lot of questions including the one you just raised, In 1945 the United State Supreme Court decided this issue in United States v. Rosenwasser. To quote from the American Bar Associations book on the FLSA (page 521):
                              To determine whether a wage payment mets the minimum wage requirements under Section 6 of the Act, the actual compensation received by the employee for the week should be divided by the total hours that the employee worked for that period.
                              Last edited by DAW; 10-14-2011, 09:31 AM.
                              "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                              Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                              Comment

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