The New Rules Don’t Seem Right?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about deductions and time clocking for exempt employees:

I’ve worked for a company here in Austin, TX for about 1 1/2yrs now and have found there are things that happen in the company that just don’t seem right. I stay because I do need the job and I have bills to pay. I am uncomfortable with the recent rules that have been put on us all though and am really beginning to question things since this past Friday.

We received a company wide email stating that ALL employees are to use the time clock starting Monday. Is it illegal to have salary-based workers clock in and out on a time clock? Why would an employer after 20years have all employees clock in and out on a time clock–salary based employees included? Also, after a recent base salary law was passed in Texas, we are now being deducted -$500 from our commission checks and they have kept our base pay at $18k. Is it legal for them to deduct $500 from our commission checks monthly?

We also get deducted $20 for every mistake that is done on our paperwork. Is this legal as well? This is a small mom and pop company–can they make up their own rules such as these and is it all legal? Any info you are able to provide will be VERY helpful—thank you.

Signed, Right/Wrong

Dear Right/Wrong:

There are several questions.1. Time clocks. I am not an attorney so this ain’t a legal opinion. OK? I have always had salaried employees sign in when they arrive and out when and where they go, and a phone number where I can reach them. It really cleans up attendance, and as a manager of large shops, this is the way I do it. If I had had a time clock where I managed, I would have used it too. I have had some people, usually those with several degrees, who said this is not professional. It was my call. Perhaps after 20 years your employer has decided he/she needs to confirm that workers are at the job site.

2. Deductions: Have you signed any release allowing your employer to deduct anything from your pay? If not, mom and pop may be in the soup. I recommend that you go to your local Texas Employment Commission and get a form where you will provide them some detail, and they will investigate this practice. Also you can go to the following site for more information http://www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/lablaw/lablaw.html or call 1 512 837 9559 and speak with a staff person who will have more information about this questionable practice. Best of luck.

Jack White, Guest Respondent with extensive managerial experience The Workplace Doctors Wherever you work, you need to become informed about what rules apply and to speak up for yourself. But to do that best entails putting yourself in your employer’s shoes. So often it seems that they do not look out for you and that a sense of WEGO is in short supply. The challenge is to be the kind of member of your workplace that increases that feeling of we are in this together–together WEGO.

Feedback: Thank you for your insight, this is helpful. As far as the Deduction part of it, they do have us sign a copy of our commission report and give them a copy. I guess in part, this is agreeing to them that they can take this -$500comm away from us BUT we still don’t feel that ethically it is right. I guess a business owner can make up whatever rules they want to. I understand that if I don’t like what is going on at a work place, I have every right to leave. I wish that was as simple as that if it weren’t about buying my monthly bills on time.It’s one of those situations where “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenarios–unfortunately. Hopefully, I wont have to be there too long. I was just curious to know if what they are doing is legal. Morally, I don’t think it’s ok with what they are doing but at this standpoint, it’s sign the commission report or have to answer to those who write out my paycheck every month. Not a good situation to be in. Thanks again,

William Gorden