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Is it legal for my employer to ask me to work "off the clock" as a punitive measure for my being late to work? What do I do?

Cambridge, MA |

I was late to work and my employer has now asked me to work for free as a punitive measure.

Is it legal?
What do I do about it?

Thank you for answering, Jonas. I work as a part-time, hourly-paid employee with no union (this is a small market). It is a supplementary job to my actual career focus. We clock in and out with a computerized system, so he has not had to pay me for time I wasn't present. Rather than making up time, I'm requested to come in for a number of hours to do work on the premises that I will not be compensated for.

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Filed under: Employment
Attorney answers 1


Generally, your employer cannot require you to "work for free." However, there are many, many caveats to that, including your membership in any one of a dozen or more professional designations. Moreover, if your employer is requesting that you simply make up the time you were late at the end of the day, that does not seem unreasonable.

Try and look at the situation objectively: are you putting in the usual 40 hours in the week? If so, I think you can relax. If you are putting in more time than that, then I urge you to think about the value of your employment to you. I am available to discuss off-line at no cost on Monday.