Q. We dock employees' pay by 15 minutes if they don't punch in or out on their timecards. If this happens more than twice over any 90-day period, we write up the employee. We've recently been told that we shouldn't have such a policy. Is that correct? If so, how can we make sure employees punch in? —K.K., Michigan
A. Rewrite your policy as soon as possible. You can't dock employees for failing to punch a timecard. Federal wage-and-hour law requires that you pay employees for all time that they work, even if they fail to properly record that time. But that doesn't mean you should ignore the problem. Turn to your policy, instead.
Example: You could provide warnings for the first and second offenses, suspension for the third offense and termination for the fourth. The policy should assign discipline that's severe enough to put an end to this situation. Also, consider a policy in which meal periods are automatically deducted, so no punch-out or punch-in is necessary.