Can they do this? (Workplace Law)

Not seeking legal advice, just curious.

FWIW, this is for work done completed the previous Saturday (so 36 hours prior). Can a company legal not pay wages or expenses because of an overdue timesheet?

If it matters, the work locations are in California and Arizona.

FTR, I am in compliance, so it wouldn’t affect me, at least directly.

According to the State of California, no they cannot.

That law is quite payroll department unfriendly - I would say that the original change was brought on by people constantly submitting late timesheets and the payroll people waiting and re-doing and revising, but apparently that is supposed to be business as usual in payroll - people turn in timesheets whenever they want, and payroll is expected to somehow get accurate paycheques out to people. I would be perfectly happy with the employer being required to make revisions whenever the timesheet is received, but you get nothing until you get your timesheet in (there’s your incentive for doing things when you’re supposed to do them).

Can you guess which side of this I’ve worked on? :slight_smile:

Sure, you have to pay people regardless of whether or not they get their timesheet in on time, but there’s no law saying you can’t fire people that never get their timesheet in on time. In this day with unemployment levels where they are, getting your timesheet in on time should be an expectation, and if you don’t then the company will find someone else that can.

Right, and absolutely they can’t NOT pay you due to a late timecard.


The threat for the pay was based on not approving the timesheet. It doesn’t say you won’t get paid, but you’ll have to put extra effort into getting your timesheet approved. That extra time is probably a legitimate excuse to delay payment. I don’t know what California does, but some states allow an employer to wait at least 45 days before paying wage due. After that time though, given a reasonable effort to collect, employers can incur substantial fines. I don’t know if that applies to expenses though. But in any case you can sue an employer for any wages or expenses you can prove are owed, and in the cases I’ve heard about, judges favor an unpaid employee.

The statement in the OP is actually not making a threat to withhold payment for work, only withhold approval of timesheet, and withhold expense payment.

“Please submit your timesheets. If you submit it later than Monday morning I will not approve it from now on. Your expenses will also not be paid.”

The inclusion of “also” in the last sentence could be read to imply that payment will not be made for work, however, it is not stated explicitly. It could also be read as “Your timesheet will not be approved by me. Also, you will not be paid for expenses.”

The law in California is clear, you will be paid for work regardless of timesheet approval.

(disclaimer - I’m not in CA)

I have to approve my employees’ timesheets. If I don’t approve them they still get paid (it is assumed that they worked 8 hours per day for all legitimate work days that month in that case). I don’t understand why in this case they would threaten to “not approve” the timesheets. If I don’t do it, its my headache to straighten it out later, not the employee’s.

I can see holding up expense reimbursement.

Threatening to not approve the timesheet might be enough to get people to turn in their timesheet on time, even if they never intend to actually follow through on the threat. I’d also guess that the threat alone isn’t against the law, but IANAL.

It also could be the one employee who has to deal with all the late timesheets getting fed up, and sending the email without really thinking it through.

At places I’ve worked (think gigantic, soulless financial firms that refer to themselves as something that rhymes with “Big Whore”), you’ll still get paid… but if in a one-year period you fail to submit your timesheet electronically by, say, 7pm on the last day of the pay period, you can get shitcanned.

I was particularly miffed by this last Christmas - the only day of my career at one of these places where I didn’t have my work laptop with me (having said “F it, Christmas is on a Friday. I refuse to work through the weekend this time.” So, I traveled to my normal Christmas family holiday on the day before the end of the time period (which was Friday). And then realized, hours and hours away from my laptop, that I was going to miss the magical “timesheet submission deadline.” My belated Christmas present was a trip to the CIO’s office and a nasty ass-chewing.

I got paid, but my annual review suffered significantly for me taking the only 3 days off that I ever had at that soulless, crooked joint. I wonder if the 8 partners of theirs that got indicted last year got yelled at for not doing timesheets from prison…