Detroit, MI asked in Employment Law for Michigan

Q: I have a labor question about being late and not getting paid.

I work at a school and get paid biweekly. The past two months have been crazy trying to buy a house. I’ve been getting to work one to five minutes late throughout the months. I was talked to and was told for punishment I get a whole days work docked off my pay. I was given the times I came in and they added up each minute I was late and it came up to 63 minutes. I completely understand docking that amount off but not a whole day. A whole day doesn’t seem legal but that’s why I’m here asking.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: I understand the punishment seems beyond the crime here. But keep in mind that if you work in a school, it's not just you and your time that factors into things: if you are a teacher, or otherwise worked singularly and directly with students, someone else may have had to step in on your behalf...even if just for a few minutes each time. That's time they weren't able to do their job.

And as a general proposition, punishment is supposed to have a deterrent effect. If they just docked you 63 minutes, it could encourage you or others to rationalize "well, each minute is only costing me 50 cents so I can afford to be 5 or 10 minutes late here of there".

Last, whether this is "legal" depends on what agreements and policies are in place. Are you a part of a union? What does your contract and union representative say about this?

T. Augustus Claus
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A: The Michigan Wage and Hour Act does require employers to pay employees for all hours worked. This means that your employer cannot dock your pay for being late unless you have agreed to it in writing or unless there is a specific provision in your employment contract that allows for docking pay.

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