Q. We have a part-time, hourly employee who usually works three days per week for 12 hours. If we don’t have enough work to fill the time, can we send her home without paying her for the unworked hours that week? — J.T., South Carolina
A. Assuming that you don’t have an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement that prohibits you from doing so, you can always send any hourly employee home early and pay them only for the hours they’ve actually worked. Of course, if you do this with any frequency, you’re going to create some unhappy employees.
Also, as with all employment-related decisions, be mindful of potential discrimination claims based on your decisions to send people home early. For example, could the employee claim she was sent home early because of her gender, age or race?