Sometimes mistakes happen. When those mistakes have to do with work time and payroll, tensions can arise between employers and employees. Of course you don’t want to pay for work that wasn’t needed or you had cancelled, but if a good employee mistakenly does work in good faith, you must consider the risks of spoiling that relationship and losing a valued employee over the issue.

Let’s imagine: a non-exempt employee, notified of a canceled meeting, forgot about the cancellation and clocked in at the office before driving to the meeting. Halfway to the location he remembered the meeting had been cancelled, returned to the office and clocked out with 25 minutes logged on his time sheet. The question is, since he had been notified and hadn’t done any work, do you still have to pay him for these 25 minutes?

While wage and hour law requires that employees are paid for all time that they are ‘suffered or permitted’ to work, the question here is whether his attempt to go to a cancelled meeting would count. Arguably you could say it does not – he had been notified that there was no meeting, and didn’t perform any actual work on his drive. However, the employee could claim he was working, or at least made an effort to do the work he was previously assigned to do. Due to the small amount of time logged by the employee and the risk for a wage claim, many employers would choose to go ahead and pay the employee for the 25 minutes he logged.

It is entirely appropriate to remind your employee to double check his schedule before he clocks in and drives to any secondary locations. If his forgetfulness has been a repeated pattern, a formal disciplinary action may be appropriate.