Can You Send Employees Home for Punishment?

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As an employer, it is important to establish and enforce disciplinary procedures to ensure your work environment runs smoothly. In any workplace, you can expect conflicts to arise and employees to break rules. Your employees need to understand the consequences and corresponding punishment for their actions. If you are considering sending home an employee as a form of punishment, you will need to understand your rights. In some cases, you may still be required to pay the employee.

Sending Employees Home

As an employer, you have the authority to send employees home as punishment if they violate company policy. Employers have the right to enact their own discipline policies. There are no standard measures you must follow when creating company rules and consequences. If you decide to send an employee home for a day or more, it is referred to as a suspension. A suspension can last as long as the employer desires. Suspension can also be indefinite.

Establishing a Discipline Policy

Although there is no standard discipline policy, employers are required to place disciplinary rules and grievance procedures in writing under the Employment Act of 2002. Rules and responsibilities should be clearly outlined for employees. Your employees should read the discipline policy and sign to verify they understand and agree. Some companies choose to adopt the progressive discipline system, which begins with a verbal warning, followed by a written warning. If the unsatisfactory behavior continues, employees may be suspended without pay. When discipline does not work, employers are often left with no choice but to terminate employment.

Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees

Employees are classified as exempt or non-exempt. Non-exempt employees typically have set duties and are able to receive overtime. Exempt employees are often white-collar workers on a salary. If an employee is non-exempt, you are required to pay the employee only for the hours worked. Therefore, sending home an employee without pay can be a successful punishment method. On the other hand, exempt employees are entitled to their full day's pay, even if they only worked a minute. If the employee shows up for work and is then sent home, you will be required to pay her for the entire day under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Terminating Employees

In most states, employment is considered "at-will." This means that an employment relationship can be terminated at any time by the employer or employee. Employers who terminate an employee can do so for any reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason, such as discrimination. There is an exception to at-will employment if the employee is promised job security through a contract.

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About the Author

Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.