Suit Supply B.V., Complaint 539

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Payment of a living wage Legally binding employment relationship
STATUS
Closed
DATE
2018-11-18

A worker complained to FWF that they are subject to illegal monetary fines for arriving late at work. The complainant was fined 425 RMB in October 2018. He/she explained that, according to factory policy, workers would be fined 5 RMB if they are less than five minutes late, they would be fined 10 RMB if they are five to thirty minutes late, 30 RMB if they are more than thirty minutes late. If they are late for work for three times in one month, from the fourth time they have to pay 45 RMB x 3. The complainant also stated they only have half an hour for dinner from 17:15 to 17:45, which is not enough for those workers who need to go home for dinner. As a result, it is quite common for them to be a couple of minutes late.

Findings and conclusions

On 18 November 2018, FWF's complaints handler in China received a complaint regarding illegal fines being deducted from workers' wages for being late and the limited time for dinner (for workers that have dinner at home, outside the factory), which was according to the complainant one of the reasons for sometimes being late. FWF declared this complaint admissible and informed Suit Supply, the FWF member sourcing at this factory. Suit Supply reached out to the factory and said that it was illegal to deduct fines from salaries and that they should work on a better system. As a solution, FWF suggested that the factory does not pay employees for the minutes not worked due to being late. For instance, if the accumulated late starts in a month exceed 30 minutes, the factory can deduct the amount corresponding to 30 minutes of work from the worker's wage. Factory mentioned that the complainant accumulated to be late exact 2 hours per month and mostly in the morning, not the evening. Since the factory had deducted a fine of 75 RMB from the worker's wage, they were asked to reimburse it. Factory management confirmed that they would do so by the end of 2018. In April 2019, Suit Supply followed up with factory management, who provided the payslip and bank transfer proving the reimbursement of 75 RMB. Unfortunately, FWF's complaints handler could no longer reach the complainant to verify whether the payment had been received. This complaint is closed. Nevertheless, FWF requests Suit Supply to monitor this factory closely on the problem of monetary fines to ensure they are not used again in the future.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2018-12-05 Investigation

The factory is informed about the complaint and mentioned that the complainant was late 13 times in October, mostly in the morning and not in the evening.

The policy of the factory with regards to arriving late is as follows:
Workers that arrive late once or twice receive a verbal warning, workers that arrive late more often will be posted on the notice board and can explain to the HR department why they are late often. Subsequently, they can provide their reasons and also sign a letter stating that they will not arrive late again. HR determines how much is deducted from the attendance bonus.

According to the factory, there have been several moments of communication with this worker about his/her late starts, but without any results. The factory is afraid that other workers will copy this behaviour if they do not take measures.
The fine is normally to lower the bonus – they withhold an amount on the attendance bonus that workers receive. In this case, the worker was late so many times that they decided to deduct more money than the bonus and, therefore, deducted money from the salary.

Suit Supply mentioned that it is illegal to deduct from salaries and that the factory should work on a better bonus system. Suit Supply is waiting on the next salary slip of the worker to see what has been done. The factory promised not to deduct it from the salary, but from the end of year bonus.

Regarding dinner time, most workers eat in the canteen and most have indicated that they rather have half an hour, so they can continue working to finish earlier in the evening. The factory responded that they follow the rule of highest number of votes and it is difficult to deviate from this, since they all work in one line and if one worker is missing the whole line cannot work.

2018-12-06 Conclusion of the investigation

The complainant stated that fines were deducted from his/her salary for being only 5 minutes late. The factory responded that the complainant was late 13 times in October. To deduct money from workers in the form of fines is illegal, the factory should work on a more reasonable bonus system to resolve this problem. Fines can be deducted from workers' wages only in the case that wrong behaviour results in economic losses for the factory. However, the deduction shall not be more than 20% of the workers' monthly wage and payment shall be made in accordance with the minimum wage standard. It is positive that the factory is transparent and the complainant did not fear to complain to FWF for fear of retaliation. This is a positive step towards transparency and better working conditions.

2018-12-07 Remediation

As a solution, FWF suggested that the factory does not pay for the minutes not worked due to being late (as long as it is not more then 20% of the salary). For instance, if the accumulated time for being late in a month is 30 minutes, the factory can deduct the amount corresponding to 30 minutes of work from the wage. The factory stated that the complainant was more than 30 minutes late in one month, i.e.two hours exactly. The factory had deducted a fine of 75 RMB from the worker's wage and confirmed that they would reimburse it at the end of 2018.

2019-04-23 Verification

FWF reached out to Suit Supply for an update on the reimbursement. Suit Supply followed up with factory management, who provided the payslip and bank transfer with the reimbursement of 75 RMB.

2019-04-26 Evaluation of the complaint

Unfortunately, FWF's complaints handler could no longer reach the complainant to verify whether the payment was received.

2019-04-26 Closed

This complaint is closed. Nevertheless, FWF requests Suit Supply to monitor this factory closely on the problem of monetary fines to ensure they are not used in the future.