Recently, it was learned that a company has a practice of removing employees from direct deposit when they don’t submit their time cards on time and instead issues a paper check that is mailed to them. This practice causes those employees to receive their paychecks a few days after the established pay date and leaves the company wondering if such a practice could cause trouble for them. Using an employee’s paycheck to punish them is never a good idea. Although it may not technically violate the Fair Labor Standards Act if the paper check was mailed to the employee by the actual pay date, this practice may run afoul of certain state laws. Furthermore, if the company hasn’t clearly communicated that the paycheck is going to be mailed to the employee, that person may be relying on his or her direct deposit to hit on the actual pay date. This could result in that individual’s account becoming overdrawn, especially if they have automatic payments that are scheduled to be paid from that account. Additionally, for some payroll systems, it can take two or three pay cycles before direct deposit can be resumed. At a minimum, your employees are going to be upset and unhappy with the company. This may result in a phone call to the Wage & Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, your state’s Wage & Hour Division (if applicable), and/or to that friendly attorney who advertises on television every night encouraging employees to call when they haven’t been paid appropriately. Do you really have the time and money to spend for an attorney to respond to this type of complaint? Is that the best allocation of your resources? Instead of using the paycheck as a means to punish the employee, issue wages to them based on what you believe they worked based on their schedule for that pay period. Once the time sheet has been submitted, you can make pay adjustments in the next regular paycheck. You can also use your normal progressive discipline process (verbal, written and final warnings up to and including termination) to remind employees that they are required to submit time sheets on time. Contributed by Christine Crews, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is Vice President of Human Resource Services for the Employers Association Forum, Inc. (EAF). EAF is a non-profit corporate membership-based association dedicated to serving the business and HR communities with world-class HR tools, hotlines & legal compliance, news & trends, surveys & economic data, benefits & insurance, risk management, training & consulting, and leadership & organizational development. HCCMO members receive discounted rates on all EAF classroom training at EAF’s training center in Longwood. Click here to learn more about EAF membership benefits.