Penalty deductions for breaking with company policy?

I realize its probably not wise (and maybe illegal?) to penalize employees for breaking company policy by making deduction from salary/wages. But can we penalize by making deduction from a company benefit, such as the travel allowance?  any thoughts?  (the policies I'm talking about are parking in the correct spot in the lot,and also making sure to turn your space heater off.)


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  • So, you mean this employee is given an annual budget for travel and you want to reduce it as a punishment for repeated transgressions?  I don't know see how this would be a prohibited move, but I'm wondering if it's the most effective way to handle it.  This punitive move doesn't guarantee an end to the problems--I'd think that facing these issues head on would be a better course of action.

    So he/she has been told not to park where they continue to park (basically thumbing his/her nose at requests) and leaves the office without turning space heater off although they have been requested to do so, correct?  For the parking issue--is the person parking illegally?  Is it in a space that does not belong to the company (are you receiving complaints from another company because of it?) If this is the case, why not tow the car (or suggest that it be towed)?  This will leave a bigger impression than anything else.

    And if they won't shut off their space heater you should tell the person they can't have one at their desk/work station. If it's the company's space heater remove it--if it's the employee's space heater tell the person it's not allowed because they're creating a safety hazard by leaving it on when they leave for the day.


  • Don't dock the travel allowance.  Just announce over the intercom "Joe Jones, you've parked your car in the wrong spot again. Please move it."  This should stop the problem.

    Leaving the space heater on is a safety issue and is more serious.  CT Carter had a good idea about banning its use altogether.

    Since "the punishment should fit the crime," I don't see any connection between these transgressions and the travel budget.  Having such a disconnect might confuse employees and cause resentment.  Just follow the steps in your discipline policy and be consistent.

  • No, the travel allowance is a benefit paid out to all employees to cover commuting costs, every month. The formula is based on mileage from home x current cost of gas. It is a about 33% of our monthly gas costs.

    As well, it's not a question of assigned spots. It's a small lot, and we request that the next person in take the next available slot, so that there is always someone to the left of you when you park. A very simple idea, but not always followed. It is by no means "illegal."

    Re. the space heater, it is not the case that anyone has ever left one on!  But management wants to ensure that this remains the case by waving a penalty before us. Also, they fear that a space heater left on one night would be one night too many.  (As it was recently in New York City--a very sad story resulting in the death of 9 children.)  And, in fact, they will penalize the manager, as well, for not checking to make sure that the employee's heater was turned off.  It will be a moot point very soon, though, as we've decided that April 15 is the end of space heater season. They will all be collected at that time.

    Thank you for your good ideas!

  • Your commuting cost reimbursement is a great benefit--wish we had it here. My two cents--the company can decide what the rules are for providing the travel allowance so long as it treats all employees in a fair and consistent manner. It could make the allowance contingent on employees following the rules related to parking. I wonder how you would police it fairly though.

    On the issue of space heaters, my own feeling is that employees be told they either turn them off or they lose them! Someone would have to police this at the end of each day, but employees would get the message. The other option is to explore heating the place a little better.

  • As far as the deductions from the travel allowance are concerned, that is a matter of company policy. If your company has a written travel allowance program, it may not be possible to change it for one employee without amending the program altogether. This is true because if your company offers a benefit, it may turn into a contractual obligation. 

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