The facts are simple: it is illegal for your employer to not pay you on time. Under the Department of Labor’s Federal Labor Standards Act, an employer must pay an employee when payment is due — whether that’s once a month, every two weeks, or in some cases, as frequently as every day, depending on what state you live in and your profession.
In Massachusetts, employees must be paid weekly or biweekly (note: regulations are different for union workers, who can be paid less frequently depending on union negotiations).
Massachusetts and federal laws impose strict requirements on employers when it comes to wage payment, including overtime, commissions and in some circumstances, accrued time as of employment termination.
Massachusetts law also requires employers to provide earned sick time for their employees; this includes part-time and temporary employees.
In Massachusetts, employees must be paid within six days of the end of the payroll period, in order for payment to be timely under the Wage Act.
If an employer withholds your wages, it’s a serious offense that not only breaks the law but causes stress and anxiety for you, the employee. Here’s what you can do about it.
Request to See the Employer’s Policy
If you’re not paid on time, request to see the employer’s policy, which includes information about sick leave, vacation, personal leave, holidays and work hours. The policy will determine whether there has been a violation of terms of employment or not.
Make Sure It’s Not a Technical Issue
Before you file a formal complaint, do one more thing: Make sure a technical error hasn’t caused the issue by contacting your manager and payroll department. Payroll could have made a technical mistake and the whole ordeal could be an unfortunate, embarrassing accident.
While an accident is unprofessional and still doesn’t make the withheld pay justified, technical errors can often be cleared up quickly in-house with little fuss.
File a Complaint
If all signs lead to withheld pay which you haven’t been able to sort out with your employer, file a formal complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. They will either investigate your complaint or issue you a “right to sue” letter, which gives you the right to bring a private action to recover your wages and attorneys’ fees.
Usually, these situations are resolved with back pay, which is when the employer provides the appropriate payment they owe you.
Being a victim of withheld pay is demeaning and stressful. If your employer hasn’t paid you on time — or has withheld funds, intentionally or unintentionally — and the situation hasn’t been quickly and amicably resolved, it’s time for the experts to step in and fight for you. Call the loyal team at SLN Law today!