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Hair & Beauty Australia Industry Association

The do’s and don’ts of docking pay

Posted August 9, 2022

There are some occasions where an employee arrives to work late. Life happens; the car won’t start, the alarm doesn’t go off in the morning, public transport cancellations or a car accident causing traffic chaos are just some of the reasons why an employee may be late for work. However, sometimes lateness can be a symbol of a larger problem, or an ongoing issue with your employee. Salon owners must know the do’s and dont’s in terms of docking staff pay for these kinds of transgressions.

Failing to pay employees who are late

An employee is not normally entitled to be paid their salary for the period that they did not attend work for an unauthorised reason.

Despite this, the obligation under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) to pay an employee for time that they have worked means that an employer can only not pay an employee for the exact period that the employee was absent.

For example, some employers may have a practice where if an employee is late by 6 minutes, they will “dock” 15 minutes from the employee. Such a practice would be a breach of the permitted deductions under the FW Act.

Difference between ‘deducting’ and not paying for unauthorised absences

It is important to be clear about the fact that an employer is not ‘deducting’ an amount from an employee’s salary when they do not pay them for not attending work as described.

This is because the FW Act generally prohibits deductions from an employee’s pay, except in certain circumstances. Rather, the employer is simply not paying the employee for the time that they have not worked.

In a circumstance where an employee is running late, they should notify their manager of the reason for their lateness and what time they expect to be at work. This may result in the manager and employee reaching agreement for the employee to make up the time at a  time that is still within the span of ordinary hours (discussed further below).


How does this apply under the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2020?

The award is silent on ‘make up time’ however, it may be considered low risk for an employer and employee to agree for an employee to make up the time that they were late.

If agreement cannot be reached, then an employee may have their wage docked for the time that they were late.


When does lateness become a disciplinary issue?

Repeated lateness may become the subject of disciplinary action particularly if the reason for the lateness is something within the employee’s control. For example, if an employee repeatedly sleeps through their morning alarm, they may need to set multiple alarms to ensure that they do not hit the snooze button.


Further advice

HABA members can call the HABA Advice Line on 02 9221 9911 to speak to one of our experienced workplace relations advisers.





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