No matter your job, how you’re paid, or how much you’re paid, every dollar you earn matters. While you can usually chalk up the occasional paycheck error as an accident, wage theft does happen, and you need to learn how to defend yourself against it. To help you protect your income, let’s review a few tips to help you protect yourself from wage theft.
Know the Signs of Wage Theft
To protect yourself from wage theft, you must first know what it looks like. First and foremost, you don’t have to lash out if you receive a paycheck error, but you should never let it slide or assume it was an accident. Always approach the situation seriously and with caution. If you’re unsure whether what you’re experiencing is wage theft, here’s what to look out for:
- Your boss can’t explain why your pay is missing.
- Your boss keeps giving you differing explanations.
- You work off the clock and aren’t compensated.
- Despite all your efforts, your pay is consistently incorrect.
- You’re asked to put in unpaid hours.
Unfortunately, improper overtime pay is one of the most common types of wage violations in the workplace. If you’re not a salaried employee, it is your right to receive fair compensation for all your work, even if it’s over your regular hours or off the clock. Never allow yourself to go underpaid, or work unpaid hours, especially if you aren’t a salaried employee.
Review Company Policies
While you should take all pay errors seriously, you don’t have to jump to conclusions. As a preliminary step, take the time to review and read through your employee paperwork. You should know their policies regarding sick pay, overtime pay, or paid time off. The more educated and aware you are of your job’s policies, the harder it is for them to pull the wool over your eyes.
Keep Track of Pay Stubs and Work Hours
The best way to protect yourself from wage theft is to consistently review and keep a record of your pay stubs and work hours. This is especially true if your job doesn’t have a system for clocking in and out of work. If so, you should personally keep track of your hours and cross-check them with how much money you receive on payday. When you have a physical record of how much you should get paid, receiving the compensation you deserve becomes much easier if you’re a victim of wage theft.
What To Do if You’re a Victim of Wage Theft
If you believe you’re a victim of wage theft, and you can’t seem to get any solid answers from your employer, you should consider filing a complaint with the Department of Labor. Specifically, file a complaint with their Wage and Hour Division (WHD). However, you can also work with a lawyer to sue your employer. Ultimately, if you’re unsure how to proceed, seeking professional legal advice is the best way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.