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Can we delay payment to employees when they submit their timesheets late?

Q: We have an issue with part-time and casual employees who are frequently not lodging their timesheets by the deadline for the pay run, resulting in them missing being paid at the same time as other employees. Even though this is the case, they still expect to be paid the next day.

Our employees are paid for travel time between clients and their mileage allowances vary considerably from fortnight to fortnight, so it is not possible to accurately pay them without a timesheet.

Is there a prescribed maximum amount of time between the close of a pay period and when an employee is paid? The relevant award does not specify.

Are we obliged to estimate what an employee should be paid if we don’t have a timesheet in time for the pay run?

Can we delay payment to employees who do not lodge their timesheet by the payroll deadline until the next pay run (potentially a fortnight later) or do we have to pay them as soon as they lodge their late timesheet?

A: Unless the relevant award says something to the contrary, an employer is entitled to follow its own policies and procedures for the purposes of paying employees. Regarding your questions, there is no such maximum amount of time – your business can make payment in the next pay cycle. However, you must make payment at least monthly.

Employers are under an obligation to make and keep accurate records regarding employees’ pay, and also to pay them the correct amount they are owed. If you fail to do this, you risk fines under the Fair Work Act. For this reason I would not make estimates regarding what your employees should be paid – I would wait for the timesheets.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Wages for current advice.

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