Employers are bound by law to pay employees in the manner and frequency agreed by both parties. In theory, there can be no arguments about this.
In practice, it’s a bit more complicated. Either by mistake or deliberate actions, some employers fail to pay wages on time.
A few days delay may not be a cause for great concern. But if you haven’t received any wages for a month or two and it happens time and again, then you should worry. It means there’s something wrong with the company. Not to mention it greatly affects your capacity to pay bills and can put you in deep debt.
Is there something you can do to compel your employer to pay? Absolutely. Here are three steps you can take:
Contact Your Employer
Before taking any legal steps, you should check with your employer first. There’s always the chance that the payroll staff just made a technical error. Inform them of the situation so they can look into the matter and make corrective actions if needed.
In small companies where there are no established protocols, you can usually just walk up to human resource. But large companies mostly require you to make the complaint in writing.
If the delay is, in fact, due to deliberate acts on the part of the employer, try to resolve it with them as much as possible. Ask for a sit down and talk about a solution. Find out what’s really causing the delay. Are they going through some financial trouble? Can they still give you all the unpaid wages?
Aim for an amicable settlement. After all, you don’t want to burn any bridges and risk your employment chances with other companies. If out-of-court negotiations don’t work, then it’s time for you to look for legal options.
Know Your Legal Rights
Every state has a different rule on how often you should get paid. It could be monthly, bi-monthly, weekly or even daily in certain cases. There are also states like Alabama and South Carolina that don’t specify how frequent wages should be paid. In general, however, your payday is stipulated in your employment contact.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also prohibits your employer from withholding your pay as punishment for violating company policies. Nor should they release last paychecks later than the next regular payday.
Even if your company has applied for bankruptcy, they still need to pay their employees. This includes back wages, holiday pay and other remunerations that are in the employment contract but were not yet given. Reorganization and liquidation likewise don’t absolve them of this responsibility.
File a Formal Complaint
After knowing what you are entitled to under the law, you may now get in touch with your state’s labor agency. Ask for information on how to file a late-wage complaint.
The procedure usually involves filling up a form. You will need to state your employer’s name and contact information. It will also ask for the total amount you are owed and when it should have been paid.
It usually takes a few weeks for the labor department to process your complaint. The exact time varies by state and depends on the number of pending wage complaints. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, they may advice you to take the case to court.
In Florida, the labor agency does not enforce state law. So instead of filing a complaint with them, employees are to instead send a notice to their employers. The notice should detail information about the late wage claim like the hours they’ve worked and how much they’re owed. The employer has 15 days from receipt of the notice to answer the complaint. Only after this can they file a lawsuit in court.
If your case needs court intervention, you will need the best workers compensation attorney. This is to make sure that you are well-represented and has the highest chance of getting the wage you are entitled to. Click here to learn more about workers comp and social security disability law.