It never hurts to love what you do, but very few people work for pure enjoyment. They expect to be paid for their time. Nevertheless, some employers fail to make payroll from time to time, leaving staff without funds. If your employer neglects to discuss the unfortunate circumstances, the burden falls on you to bring it up. As with any work problem, it’s best to approach the matter professionally and diplomatically.
Before storming into your employer’s office, look back at your latest timesheet. The mistake could be on your end. Maybe you forgot to submit your timecard or failed to fill out the card in its entirety. If all looks goods, gather the relevant information, such as hours worked, previous paystubs and even expenses you incurred as a result of the delinquency,and provide it to your employer.
Face to Face
Set up a private meeting with your boss, but approach the situation as if no one is at fault. For all you know, the missed paycheck is a technical error, and she might be unaware of the delinquency. Accusing your boss of “stiffing you” doesn’t do anyone any good. Start off by saying something like, “I’m not sure you know this, but I didn’t get a paycheck last week,” and then let her respond. Most — if not all — employers know when they’re unable to meet payroll, and she’s likely set in motion a way to make up the missing funds. Hear her out, and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
After meeting with your boss, send a follow-up message detailing the agreed upon plan for payment, and keep a copy for your own records. Although you have every right to get paid for your work, you want documentation, especially if legal action is needed to recoup lost or missing wages. Do the same with any relevant timesheets and incurred expenses — original materials are always best; so only provide your employer copies of any documentation on the matter.
If your employer is still unable to meet delinquent payroll, take action, but do the courtesy of informing her. Tell her that you’re contacting the Wage-Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor or the relevant labor commission in your area, such as the Department of Industrial Relations of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Doing so could light a fire under her and get her to resolve the situation on the spot. Employers who fail to pay staff are subject to penalties by the federal government, so it benefits her to come to a quick resolution.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.