Late Timesheets

We are having a classic problem with employees submitting timesheets late which of course, ends up costing us more to have to process manual checks for them. We would like to implement a late timesheet policy that in essence charges a fee for late timesheet submission. I am aware that you cannot withhold deductions from an employee's pay unless the employee agrees to those deductions in writing, for example benefit deductions. So what's to stop an employer from creating a late timesheet policy that all employees must agree to as a condition of employment that would permit an employer to collect a fee for a late timesheet submission? I would appreciate everyone's thoughts and feeback on this.


  • 10 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I think you are treading on thin ice. You are essentially not paying an employee for time worked. This is similar to not wanting to pay an employee for unauthorized overtime.

    Instead, I would handle it as a failure to follow procedures. Employees who turn in late timesheets cause the organization time and money. Chances are this has been treated as a small issue so far, so the employees don't see it as a big deal Follow your displinary procedures, up to and including termination. The first time someone gets written up you will find all the employees will sit up and take notice.

    Good luck!

  • Actually no, we would pay the employee at their regular hourly rate of pay for all time worked, taxes would be applied as mandated etc., we would then collect any an all regular deductions as usual. The disciplinary issue is a sensitive one, we are a human services non-profit, so finding workers to fill the positions is a constant issue even in this tough economy. Discipline isn't working and terminating for this issue just doesn't make sense because other than the late timesheet issue this is otherwise a good employee. I see the "fee" I am proposing like any other. For example, payroll departments often charge employees a stop payment fee for lost paychecks because it is a policy that must be agreed to as a condition of employment which brings me back to my original question. Is there any basis in Wage law that would prevent us from creating such a policy and obtaining the employee's written consent to the fee in such circumstances?:-/
  • I suppose the reason for not disciplining would prevent you from telling the employee time sheets must be in by a certain time or it will have to wait until the next regularly scheduled payroll run?

    Our drivers are paid a percentage of the freight they haul. If they don't turn tickets in by a certain time, they don't get paid for those tickets until the next pay period. Generally it only takes missing the deadline once.
  • Well due to the fact that we are a human services non-profit and a well known one at that, not paying the employee until the next payday just seems well....inhumane and worse yet it would have that appearance as well. A fee would definitely get their attention and would hurt but wouldn't cause them the inability to necessarily pay their rent or other bills. :whip:
  • Well, now that we have all the informational data out of the way, :) if you haven't done so, you may need to check your state laws to see if they specify what can and can't be withheld from wages. Oklahoma is very specific about it. Oh, another thing, does this involve and exempt or non-exempt employee?
  • We are in Arizona, so no real Labor Laws where pay is concerned other than to say that any deductions have to be first authorized by the employee (again the policy and authorization as a condition of employment idea). This involves a non-exempt employee.
  • You can probably do it then, but frankly, I would not handle it this way. You could set yourself up for all kinds of problems like having to justify the amount, etc.

    If you have talked to this employee with no change, then moved up to writing the employee up and including it in the evaluations with no change, then next I would suspend without pay for an hour or two. If still no change I would move the suspension up to a half day or whole day, then to 3 days. If still no change you might as well face it that the employee has no respect for your policies and terminate.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  • You may be able to charge the fee legally under your state's wage and hour laws, but something about it doesn't sit right with me. It seems like you are sending a message to the employee that if not for the extra cost involved in processing the late timesheet, there wouldn't be a problem. What happens when an employee violates a policy and offers to reimburse the company for the inconvenience. Will that forgive the policy violation? What if the employee points out other instances of employee conduct that add additional cost to your company? How will you respond?

    Personally, I would deal with it as a disciplinary issue.
  • Just chiming in here to add my two cents that I would absolutely treat this as a disciplinary issue, even given the particular details of this situation. While I agree that terminating for a few late timesheets might seem a bit harsh, terminating for a pervasive habit of disregarding company policy and deadlines is another situation entirely. If I had an employee who absolutely could not get the timesheet in on time, despite repeated reminders, I would at least want to look into the situation and see if the employee had a good reason for this inability. Is he or she just that overworked, having difficulty with the timesheet submission, having difficulty staying organized (which may spill over into work quality), etc.?

    If nothing else, there might be a non-disciplinary, non-monetary solution to help the employee get the timesheets in on time and save the employer the processing costs. In a couple of places I've worked (both public employers who paid on monthly schedules), because of the delay and cost caused by late timesheets, the managers would take on the responsibility of collecting the timesheets from the employees and then submitting them to payroll. It may seem a little micro-managey, but if it solves the problem with just a little extra nudging from the managers/supervisors, it may be more worthwhile than implementing a fee system.

    With all of that said, to offer another possible suggestion that could work around a few of the problems noted by the other excellent comments in this thread, what if you implemented a combination of the policies suggested here?

    The employer policy would be that employees submitting late timesheets would not be paid until the next regular pay period. However, employees would have the option of paying the extra costs for manual check generation if they were unable to wait until that next pay period.

    This lets the employees opt in to the fee payment so that they're at least not going without rent money, but it also instills firm consequences for the late timesheet that are separate from the fee payment. I think it's a close distinction, but it feels a little better, to me, to structure it that way.
  • I like the combined policy suggestion from Holly - it seems the most reasonable and potential the best option for getting the behavior to stop. Thank you all for your help with this. =D>
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