Is it legal to lose pay if missed work while on salary?

Is it legal to lose pay if missed work while on salary? Find out on

Question - Date: 2007

I am currently a salaried employee. I work more than 40 hours a week on most weeks. I don’t receive any kind of overtime pay at all, however, I was off two days due to an eye injury and had pay taken off my cheque. I have asked HR and have only gotten vague responses.  Is it legal for this to take place? The company is American owned operating in  Canada. Thanks for your attention. I look forward to finding out.


Answer Paywizard:

If you are working in the United States, the question that you ask depends largely upon the contract that exists between you and your employer. That’s not to say that your employer can write any provisions he or she wishes into your employment contact, but US federal law does not require paid sick leave.  The Family and Medical Leave Act, on the other hand does provide “…up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical situations for either the employee or a member of the employee's immediate family.”

In Canada, of course, the laws governing sick leave are different. Although Canadian law is not my specialty, according to the Human Resources and Social Development Canada website above, Canadian law is similar to American law in that your employer does NOT have to continue your salary payments while you are on sick leave:

Is the employer required to continue salary payments while the employee is absent?

No. The Code provides job security only. There is no provision for paid leave of absence. Some employees, however, may be entitled to cash benefits under the Employment Insurance Act.

Information about eligibility and benefits may be obtained at any Human Resource Center of Canada.

Since you do not seem to have a legal remedy, if you are concerned that your pay was docked unfairly, I suggest taking a look at your employment contract. In your contract, you will probably notice a few things: (1) what your salary is; (2) what your workweek is; (3) how many days you are expected to work to earn your salary; and (4) provisions regarding sick days, vacation, personal days etc.

I suspect that, if you were absent without leave and did not report your missing time as a sick day, a vacation day, or any other type of missing day as allowed in your contract, that your employer has every right to reduce your pay accordingly.

Some answers to questions that would help me better understand your situation are:

  1. Does your employer have a procedure that you must go through to report sick days, injury, etc.?
  2. Did you report the injury and your absence to your employer via proper procedure?

If you have done both 1 and 2 and your employer allows you to have paid sick days, I see no reason why your paycheck should be docked. On the other hand if you have not done 1 and 2 then there is a good possibility that you were docked mistakenly as the result of a bureaucratic mistake. Either way, I suggest you keep on your human resources department to get to the bottom of this mystery. However, I do not see a legal remedy for your situation.


Best of luck!