Can we withhold pay from workers who clock in early? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can we withhold pay from workers who clock in early?

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Q. Some of our nonexempt employees occasionally begin work before their established starting times. We’ve always paid them for this time, but I’ve recently read that Georgia employers don’t have to pay an employee for such time if the early start was not approved in advance. Is this true?

A. No. Employers must pay for all time employees actually work, whether approved or not. If an employee decides to clock in and start working before scheduled work hours, you must pay for that time.

That doesn’t mean, however, that employees are free to set their own work schedules or determine how many hours they will work in a given workweek. To the contrary, you can adopt policies against working without preapproval. You may discipline employees who don’t comply, up to and including termination. What you can’t do is dock their pay for time worked.

You need to communicate to your employees your disciplinary policy, and instruct them to clock in only within their scheduled work hours. 

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