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Los Angeles Law Blog

By John Kristensen of Kristensen, LLP posted in Employment Law -- Employee on Monday, December 16, 2019.
Can Your Employer Delay Your Paycheck If You Submit Your Timesheet Late?

As an employer, there are more tasks and to-dos to keep a business running and successful than anyone may want to think about or realize. Even the most well-organized business will have its weak points, and a successful business identifies those weak points and adjusts to accommodate them. One of the most important aspects of running a successful business is managing finances, which certainly includes overhead expenses, such as wages for employees. As an employee, you are directly impacted by your employer’s level of organization and ability to pay you on time. Every business is run differently, and the use of timesheets can be a common method to keep accurate records of wages owed for both the employer and the employee. In these cases, employers often request timesheets by a certain date – however, if you fail to, or are unable to, submit your timesheet by that deadline, can your employer delay your paycheck?

The short and important answer is “no” – an employer cannot legally withhold or delay your paycheck simply because you submitted it late. The reason for this is simple: your employer is legally obligated to keep a record of the hours worked by their employees, so while a timesheet can be a helpful tool, it should not be their sole method to determine hours worked for their business. If an employer is unsure of the details of the hours you have worked without your timesheet, the best answer is for them to pay you for the hours you are scheduled, which may result in over- or under-payment once your timesheet is submitted and reviewed, which will require additional correction. Although that is not ideal for either party, it is a fair and legal alternative, whereas delaying your paycheck is not.

The longer answer is “no, but” – and that “but” can be important. An employer cannot legally withhold your wages as the result of a late timesheet, but if a timesheet is requested and required, you can receive a warning or further disciplinary action – including termination – as a result of failing to submit it to your manager or employer on time. If there is an identifiable reason you are finding it difficult to submit your timesheet on time, we highly recommend speaking to your employer about the extenuating circumstances to see if another, more reasonable, arrangement can be made that will be more effective for both you and them. As with many aspects of the relationship between the employer and the employee, communication is likely the most effective tool to keep both parties satisfied as well as legally compliant.

If your employer is withholding your wages on the basis of a delayed timesheet, we encourage you to reach out to our office to determine what your options are moving forward. You work to support yourself, and possibly your family as well, and if you have performed the work, nobody has the right to deny you your livelihood.