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Dock pay as part of discipline?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Preventing Workplace Violence

Q. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, may I dock an employee’s pay as a disciplinary penalty?

A. You must pay hourly, nonexempt employees for the time they work, so you cannot retroactively dock their pay as a disciplinary measure.

An employer may dock an exempt employee’s pay only for penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance. Safety rules of major significance include those related to the prevention of serious danger in the workplace or to other employees, such as rules prohibiting smoking in explosives manufacturing plants, oil refineries or coal mines.

You may, however, impose an unpaid suspension as discipline for both nonexempt and exempt workers. In the case of the exempt worker, however, the unpaid suspension must involve a written disciplinary policy regarding infractions of workplace conduct rules, such as rules prohibiting sexual harassment, workplace violence or drug or alcohol use. It must be for serious misconduct, not performance or attendance issues, and the unpaid suspension must be for at least one full day. 

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