Pay - Unauthorised absence and lateness


If someone does not turn up for work or is late, their employer does not have to pay them for the time they did not work.

However, an employer should:

  • follow any policy they have on it
  • be fair and reasonable – an employee might have a good reason for not being at work, for example sickness or a family emergency

To find out whether they will get paid for unauthorised absence, employees should:

  • check their organisation's policy, if there is one
  • check their employment contract
  • talk to their employer

Deducting pay for being late

If it's agreed in their employment contract, employers can deduct pay from employees when they're late for work.

The amount of pay the employer deducts should be reasonable for the amount of time the employee is late. Deducting more pay than is reasonable could cause more absence.

For example, an organisation deducts an hour's pay from employees when they're 15 minutes late. Blake is running 15 minutes late for work. They decide to take a full hour off work, because they know they'll lose an hour's pay regardless.

An employer must not take an employee's pay below the National Minimum Wage.

It's likely to be against the law if both of the following apply:

  • an employer deducts an employee's pay for being late
  • the employee's contract does not say their employer will make deductions for lateness

Find out more about deductions from pay and wages

Contact the Acas helpline

If you have any questions about pay and unauthorised absence or lateness, you can contact the Acas helpline.

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