Q: Can we have a rule that says employees who submit their time card late will be paid late?
A: It’s no secret that late timesheets can cause headaches for employers. Ultimately though, it is the employer's responsibility under federal and state law to pay employees on the established payday for hours that were worked, regardless of whether or not a complete timesheet was submitted. There is no exception to this law that allows an employer to delay payment or deduct from pay until the next payday. Punitive responses, such as wage reduction, fines, or delayed pay, are likely to create issues with both federal wage and hour compliance and state wage payment regulations.
When you don't have a completed timesheet, you can comply with the law by paying all of the wages that you reasonably know are due. Work with the employee’s manager to determine this. If an employee notifies you of underpayment once they receive their paycheck, issue a payment for the correction immediately.
To address late timesheet submissions, we recommend employers use training, discipline, counseling, or other creative methods.
An employee who turns in timesheets late should be counseled and written up as often as it occurs to correct the problem—with warnings for future failure to comply. For example, the warning may state that continued failure to comply will result in additional discipline, up to and including termination. If an employee consistently fails to follow your timekeeping policies, termination may be appropriate.
On a company-wide level, reminders from managers can help, as can alerts from programs like Outlook. Creative incentives or deterrents may also be an option. For example, some companies have incentives like good timesheet submission awards or disincentives like the loss of a perk.