Employees can be disciplined for submitting a timesheet late, or with errors. However, that discipline cannot impact the employee’s pay. Employers are not allowed to delay or dock the worker’s pay for a timesheet mishap. The discipline is limited to warning, suspending, or terminating the worker, and cannot be done in a discriminatory fashion.
What can happen if I turn in a late timesheet?
Employees who are late with their timesheet submission can face disciplinary measures.
Those disciplinary measures are frequently laid out in the employee handbook. They often increase in severity based on the nature of the conduct and how often it has happened. They are usually on a progressive scale and include:
- verbal warnings,
- written warnings,
- suspensions, and
Late employee timesheets are a hassle to employers. However, they are far from the worst office offense. Therefore, employers tend to resort to a progressive discipline policy that provides several warnings before resorting to more severe disciplinary actions, like a suspension.
Can my employer refuse to pay me or deliberately delay my paycheck?
No. Federal law requires that employers pay their workers for the time they have worked.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are generally not allowed to reduce a worker’s paycheck as a disciplinary measure. This FLSA mandate covers situations where a worker has missing timesheets or has failed to clock in or enter hours correctly on their submitted timesheet.
The FLSA also requires employers to pay their employees for hours worked during the pay period on the regular payday set out by the employer. This prevents them from delaying payment because of cash flow problems or because a worker did not submit their timecard before the due date.
The FLSA also holds the employer responsible for keeping track of the working hours of its employees. While employees have to use the time clock to report their workday hours, recordkeeping responsibilities fall on the employer.
What can I do if my employer docks or delays my wages?
Workers who have seen their paycheck reduced or delayed because they failed to timely submit their timesheet can file a wage and hour lawsuit. They can also file a federal complaint with the Department of Labor (DOL).
The lawsuit can recover:
Those liquidated damages are equal to the amount that was withheld or delayed. This means that workers can essentially recover twice the amount that their employer had deducted for the timesheet issue.
Can my employer use automated time tracking?
Yes, many employers are moving away from paper timesheets and turning to automation for better timekeeping in the workplace. Labor laws do not prevent them from doing so.
While many of these time management systems make it easier for hourly employees to record their time and attendance in the workplace, there are still errors that can be made during the time entry process.
What are some common timesheet errors?
There are numerous ways for a timesheet to be invalid. Some of the most common include:
- it is submitted late,
- it gets lost,
- it does not include additional hours that the worker spent on the job,
- it does not reflect paid time off,
- the worker did not clock in or out during one of the days in the pay period,
- it was given to the wrong timesheet approver, and
- the timesheet was not signed by the worker.
Each of these issues can keep the timesheet from being processed.
How can employers rectify a timesheet problem?
Employers who receive an invalid timesheet that cannot be corrected before payroll, or who receive a timesheet after payroll has processed, still have to pay the employee. If they do not pay the worker, they can risk violating the FLSA.
Often, employers will pay the worker based on their work schedule during the pay period. This allows the worker’s wages to be paid on time. Any discrepancies between the scheduled working hours and the actual hours can be clarified later on.
The employer can discipline the employee for failing to turn in their timesheet. That discipline, however, cannot implicate the worker’s paycheck. It also cannot be discriminatory.
 29 CFR 541.602(a).
 29 USC 216(b).