Imagine working a 10 hour retail shift with no respite. No lunch. Not a moment to rest at all.
You may ask your boss for a breather and he or she responds with a loose explanation to rationalize why you’re not allowed to take a break. You’ll work your entire shift without pause.
In some states like California or Oregon, that’s wage theft – an illegal practice where employers do not pay their employees for all worked performed.
It unfortunately unfolds in a variety of situations. Anything from the above scenario to paying less than minimum wage, not paying overtime to nonexempt and hourly employees or even stealing a person’s tips falls into the category. An employer could skip a paycheck, or forget to include holiday pay. However, the most blatant form is simply not paying somebody at all for his or her labor.
Most often this happens in smaller businesses because they feel they’re less likely to be audited. Truthfully, it can happen anywhere someone is employed. And it is has; even in corporations as large as Applebee’s or Walmart.
So what can be done? Internally, payroll professionals can help deter the act altogether by doing the following:
• Keeping up to date with current wage laws.
• Taking the time to educate peers about pay requirements and noncompliance.
• Keeping all employee records since hire date for a minimum of six years (even if the employee has moved on).
• Thoroughly going over records to spot any potential violations, and correct them.
• Evaluating any and all supervisor requests concerning pay (this could include promoting an employee from non-exempt to exempt, for example).
• Considering an internal audit of payroll records.
• Gathering advice from your legal team.
• Keeping ears open to anything suspicious.