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Can we hold an employee's paycheck because he or she didn't turn in a timesheet?

No. Many employers struggle to get their employees to turn in their timesheets on time and without errors, but wage-payment laws require employers to pay employees for all hours worked on regularly scheduled paydays set by the employer. Failure to turn in a timesheet does not warrant an exception to these laws. Employers will argue that they cannot pay the employee without the timesheet as they don't know what hours the employee worked. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it is the employer's obligation to keep record of the hours worked by employees, and, while many employers rely on employees' assistance via a timesheet or time clock, the employer is ultimately responsible. Therefore, the employer must pay the employee for all hours worked, regardless of whether the employee recorded his or her time or turned this information in to the employer.

So, how can the employer ensure that it pays the employee correctly? Ultimately, it may come down to contacting the employee for an accounting of his hours verbally or paying the employee for the hours he was scheduled to work. In addition, an employer should establish clear timekeeping guidelines and procedures, whether they involve a time clock, paper-and-pencil timesheets or computer-based time tracking programs, and discipline employees accordingly for failure to follow these procedures. Any discipline that is consistently applied without discrimination and that does not involve withholding pay for time worked is appropriate. If you have a progressive discipline policy, follow those procedures as you would for any other policy/procedure violation in the workplace.

See Time Reporting Policy 


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