I want my money
July 6, 2006 2:30 PM   Subscribe

My paycheck is late again.

I'm starting the second month of my job, and my fourth paycheck is now a day late. Of the 4 checks I've been due (including this one,) 2 have been late, the first one by 5 days. It's a small company, and the owner writes the checks herself, but to my mind, this is totally unacceptable. I don't have any real savings, so getting my checks on time is vital. According to other employees, this is a reoccuring event. I'm already looking for another job, but that might take some time, and I'd like to do something in the meantime, either with the boss, or through some official agency. If it helps, I live in Tucson, Arizona.

I'd like most to get my checks on time, but if I can't do that (or even if I can,) I'd like to do something about it that makes my displeasure known or brings in some kind of governmental/third party oversite. Any ideas?
posted by Snyder to Work & Money (24 answers total)
I suppose it depends a lot on the situation, but have you tried talking to the boss? Is it a lack of funds on the part of the company or an owner who is disorganized?

It's easy to say to her, "I realize you're busy, but is it possible to get my paycheck on time? I have bills which are due on the Xth day of the month and I'm dependent on my check." If that's a problem, run like hell.
posted by JMOZ at 2:33 PM on July 6, 2006

The first step is to talk to her about it and convey the seriousness of your concerns. You don't mention that you've done that.
posted by vacapinta at 2:36 PM on July 6, 2006

Best answer: If you want to stick it to her, take it to the Labor Relations Board. This is a violation of labor law.

If you just want your checks on time, see if you can get her to do payroll through someone like ADP and sign up for direct deposit. Working with a big payroll processor may force her to get her act together.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:52 PM on July 6, 2006

Best answer: 1. Talk to your boss. See if you can find out what's going on.
2. Set aside 10-20% of your paycheck each week, if at all possible. Aim to build up six months of living expenses.
3. Apply for a line of credit, in case you ever find yourself cash-strapped and needing to pay your rent or buy groceries. (Your goal is to avoid ever using it.)
4. Review your local employment market situation, so that you know what options you have. I assume your resume is up-to-date, given you just started this job.
5. Check with local employment authorities to find out your rights. (You should be aware of your rights no matter what your employment situation.)
6. Keep a record of your work hours and pay dates. Make sure you have copies of your contracts and the like. Just dot all the Is and cross all the Ts.

But talk to your employer. Maybe she's just disorganized. Maybe the accountant just quit.
posted by acoutu at 2:55 PM on July 6, 2006

I also suggest speaking to the owner directly first, before trying to get any outside authorities involved.
posted by gwenzel at 2:57 PM on July 6, 2006

This is not necessarily a violation of labor law. Labor laws involve unions. You are discussing employment law. Check your local and state laws to determine what the rule is regarding prompt payment.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:12 PM on July 6, 2006

Instead of complaining about what has happened in the past, you could try a tack like, "I'd like to stop by to pick up my check on Wednesdays, because it's important that I deposit it as early as possible. Could I stop by your office in the mornings, or would afternoons be better?"

If your boss works offsite, that particular phrasing won't work; but the point it, be less confrontational by focusing on the future rather than what happened in the past.
posted by cribcage at 3:15 PM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses. The first instance involved a flair-up of a medical condition, this time it's because she lost the checkbook. I found out both from her husband, who works here, can write company checks, but will not do payroll for some reason. He did give me partial advances on my paycheck, but it's not something I'd like to budget on. It is a very small office, only 8 workers, not including the owner and her husband.

The first time this happened, I did communicate with her husband, trying to convey the seriousness of my position (re: bills and whatnot) and he assured me it would not happen again, however, I discovered around that time that a co-worker of mine would often have to go to their house to pick up the checks herself when the owner didn't feel like bringing them in for whatever reason.

Are there any particular approaches y'all might suggest in pressuring them or really impressing upon them how much I need regular checks?
posted by Snyder at 3:21 PM on July 6, 2006

JMOZ has it with the first comment, I think. Acoutu's advice makes sense too.

Why pressure or threaten her? More flies with honey than vinegar and all that. I would try just being honest and upfront about it, and doing it nicely but still conveying how important it is to you. I realize that it's a frustrating situation for you, but I think you need to talk to her directly (not her husband, since he's not the one writing the checks).
posted by KAS at 3:28 PM on July 6, 2006

My last boss was always forgetting to pay us, and we used ADP. Even with a payroll service, someone still has to verify the hours & stuff -- it's not completely automatic. He also did things like took deductions from my paycheck for my health insurance, but then didn't pay the health insurance, so that my insurance coverage was suspended a couple of times, but that's a whole other thing.

I would immediately and directly confront the boss when this shit happened. "Today is the sixth, we were supposed to be paid on the fifth, what time today will I receive my paycheck?" And he would write me out a check on the spot because he was embarrassed and he knew he was in the wrong.

Be wary of an employer who won't pay you on time or otherwise messes with your compensation or benefits. There are problems there -- cash flow, poor management, sketchy business practices, whatever. You are providing your boss a service by doing your job, and you must be compensated on the agreed upon payment schedule. Would your boss be OK if you "forgot" to complete a task by a deadline? Not so much, I imagine, and the same goes here.
posted by macadamiaranch at 3:28 PM on July 6, 2006

This is not necessarily a violation of labor law. Labor laws involve unions. You are discussing employment law.

In most countries, there is no particular distinction between the two.
posted by scody at 3:34 PM on July 6, 2006

and sorry, Ironmouth, that may have off as snottier than I intended.
posted by scody at 3:37 PM on July 6, 2006

Response by poster: KAS: I don't want to pressure or threaten her unduly, but getting paid is such a basic concept of work, and that they have difficulty doing that (not just for me either, the whole office,) and that my little bit of talking to the boss's husband (she only comes in infrequently, and then stays overnight at least for a day or so,) about my finances (just mentioning about upcoming bills and such,) that I'm trying to think of a way to get my point across in a stronger fashion without losing my job. (Even if I am fired unfairly, it's still a right-to-work state, and the process of getting recomensated for that is not something I'd like to deal with.)
posted by Snyder at 3:40 PM on July 6, 2006

Best answer: The laws governing what is defined as timely pay vary from state to state. A typical law might require an employer to pay at least monthly and not later than 7 days after the end of the pay period. If you are typically paid on Friday for the two week period that ended on that Friday, any payment within 7 days would be legally timely. If you are being paid on Friday for the week that ended a week before, there may be a remedy

As a practical matter, I think politely but firmly reminding them that your need to be paid in a timely fashion is a serious concern to you is the best course of action. If the problem is chronic, I'd consider asking the day before payday if you should expect to get paid on time as a reminder to them and an expression of your concern on the topic.

You might find the Arizona ICA Wage FAQ useful to you.
posted by Lame_username at 4:03 PM on July 6, 2006

This exact thing happened to my wife, after repeatedly talking to the employer, requesting regular payment, she ended up going to the Labor Relations Board. He went ballistic, claimed she was being impatient, unfair and cruel. She quit.
The Labor Relations Board does not take this lightly.
Oh, did I forget to mention, often times she would have to call him in Vegas where he flew once a month on his own personal private jet.
posted by BillsR100 at 4:48 PM on July 6, 2006

Don't bother with trying to fix this situation. Get another job.
posted by rdr at 5:13 PM on July 6, 2006

Good god, people. The employer is human too. It sounds like her excuses were reasonable, and regardless of the percentage of paychecks, this is STILL only two mistakes. Give her a break and wait it out a little. If it keeps happening, yeah, talk to her about it. If it doesn't happen, great.

In the meantime, it sucks to happen, I agree. But it also sucks to be a small business employing people who can't handle the slightest bit of adversity or problems.
posted by Kickstart70 at 5:46 PM on July 6, 2006

I'm with Kickstart70 on this one. It doesn't seem like you've actually talked to your boss about the situation. Rather than immediately calling in the authorities, why not talk to her directly and see what she says. Perhaps if she provided a time and date by which time checks would be ready would help?
posted by richardhay at 6:01 PM on July 6, 2006

Don't know what the situation is in your state, but here in Georgia, an ongoing problem with late/absent paychecks was one of the few reasons you could quit a job and still collect unemployment insurance. Because the employee isn't being paid, they were considered to have been "constructively furloughed" or something like that.

Take this with a great big block of salt, though - this was at least 10 years ago, and not from personal experience.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:05 PM on July 6, 2006

At my previous job when we were paid late due to an accounting snafu (I worked for a subsidiary of a US company and they paid us from their) my boss was literally grovelling on the carpet asking for forgiveness. It's not something to be taken lightly and if it happens again without prior forewarning (and an advance) you should think about looking elsewhere.
posted by PenDevil at 3:56 AM on July 7, 2006

Just get out. Don't be taken in by "oh I'm a poor small businessman." I was and I have the credit card bills, empty savings account, and still outstanding checks to prove it. If they can't pay you on time, they shouldn't be running the business.
posted by dame at 6:18 AM on July 7, 2006

Best answer: Scody,

I'm a labor and employment attorney in the U.S. where the commenter is from. Up thread, the poster indicated to complain to the Labor Relations Board. This is error, unless the poster is a unionized worker. Even then, it is likely there would be a grievance procedure.

The National Labor Relations Board has to do with issues involving labor unions. They do not handle wage disputes, which are under state law.

The poster needs to go to a local non-profit for employment justice to figure out what to do and to get competent legal help.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:33 AM on July 7, 2006

My boss *forgets* to call in our payroll from time to time as well. I currently work in a small business, and we have 5 employees. In fact, she *forgot* last week even though *I* took 3 messages from our payroll provider saying that my boss needed to call in the payroll.

My take: Complain, complain, complain. Your boss has one main obligation to you: pay you. That is what you are there for. That is why you sit there for 8 hours a day (possibly more, if you are in a small business). I have a ton of obligations to my employer that I have to remember day in and day out, they have ONE obligation to me: Pay me my salary and pay me on time.

All due respect, I don't go for kickstarts "But it also sucks to be a small business employing people who can't handle the slightest bit of adversity or problems."

When you start your own business, you need to take care of those things. There is a ton of responsibility that comes with a business, and you shouldn't be in business if you are not willing to take care of them all. Someone earlier mentioned a suggestion to the posted or opening a line of credit in case this happens, *just in case*. In my opinion, the employer needs to dig into the line of credit.

I'll stop whining and babbling and get to the point: put up with this place as long as it takes you to find a new job. It's bad news. Even if your employer *is* forgetting to pay you, it sends a lound message of how high the employees are on the priority scale.

Me? I'm out of this place next week.
Lesson for Employers? Treat your employees good or they will leave you high and dry.

Damn. I sure ranted here huh?
posted by punkrockrat at 10:15 AM on July 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

I found out both from her husband, who works here, can write company checks, but will not do payroll for some reason. [snip]
The first time this happened, I did communicate with her husband, trying to convey the seriousness of my position (re: bills and whatnot) and he assured me it would not happen again

Why are you discussing the problem with the person who isn't (directly) the problem? I could also reassure you that it's not going to happen again and it would be only marginally more empty.

Reading wildly into the situation it sounds like you're somewhat caught in the middle of a power struggle/pissing match. The husband knows this bothers at least one employee, CAN write the checks, but doesn't - despite this being a repeated issue, according to your co-workers.

Reading vaguely wildly into your statement - "I'd like most to get my checks on time, but if I can't do that (or even if I can,) I'd like to do something about it that makes my displeasure known or brings in some kind of governmental/third party oversite." Really? This is a good use of your energy, being irked about this and trying to get revenge? Let it go, go work somewhere that isn't run by a fucktard with bad priorities. Your soul/stomach lining is too valuable to jerk around with anger over something like this.
posted by phearlez at 3:20 PM on July 7, 2006

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