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7 Reasons Why Unpaid Wages Happen and What You Can Do About It

4 minutes read

Have you been underpaid? You need to take immediate action if so. You can find out what you need to do to get the money you’re owed right here.

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Unpaid wages can happen for a number of reasons. When a person’s wages are withheld, arguments ensue. Sometimes employers have good reasons for refusing to pay their employees but then again, sometimes they don’t. Your main priority if your employees have been held back is to find out what your employer’s reasoning is. If their reasoning isn’t sound, you need to take legal action. This post plans to tell you how you can do that and will explain everything there is for you to know about getting the money you’re owed.

1. Employer Spite

One reason why people are not paid their wages is out of spite. Sometimes employers develop personal issues with the people who work for them and dock their wages. If your boss has intentionally paid you less than you are owed because they are angry at you, get in touch with a lawyer. One professional unpaid salary attorney in California makes clear on their website that by getting in touch with them, you can get the money you are owed. Filing a lawsuit against your employer for unpaid wages could even lead to you getting an additional payment, called damages. A damages payment is to compensate you for any stress you might have experienced. All of your legal fees will be reimbursed back to you as part of your settlement as well. Make sure that you send all receipts and expense logs to the lawyer you hire. Find the most qualified attorney that you can. More detail will be given on finding a lawyer later on in this post.

2. HR Mistakes

HR (Human Resources) is the department typically responsible for handling payroll. While HR departments are usually quite efficient, sometimes they make mistakes. If you have been paid less than you are owed, your first point of contact should be the rep you talk to from HR. Send them an email or pop into their office if they have a physical one. Don’t immediately leap to filing a lawsuit until you find out why you have been underpaid. If you have been underpaid because of a mistake, it’s likely that the correct amount will be sent to you. However, if HR has made a mistake but they are not acknowledging it or are saying that there is nothing they can do, you can get in touch with a lawyer and demand compensation.

3. Not Recording Overtime

Overtime is how many people fund their lifestyles. People’s basic wages typically only cover rent and basic living expenses. Overtime allows them to ensure they have nice things, i.e., clothes and cars. When a person’s overtime isn’t recorded, this can lead to them getting paid less than they expect. You could consider unrecorded overtime an HR mistake since it’s HR that works out people’s hours. It is your responsibility to fill out overtime sheets and drop them into HR, though. If you do not do this, the company might not be able to prove you have worked as much as you have and you could have difficulty trying to file a lawsuit against them. Make sure that every time you work overtime, it is recorded.

4. Incomplete Work

An employer might dock an employee’s pay because they are not satisfied with the quality of the work that they have produced. If your employer is saying you did not complete work to a satisfactory degree, you can still file a lawsuit. However, it is worth noting that if you genuinely didn’t complete the work according to your employer’s specifications, there is a chance that you could lose your lawsuit. No judge is going to rule in your favor if it is obvious that your employer is in the right and you the wrong. Think long and hard about the work that you did before filing a lawsuit and make sure that you are confident it was completed as it was supposed to. You may want to talk to colleagues you were working with and ask them if they think you were working hard enough.


5. Injuries or Damages

If the work that you were completing led to people getting injured or your workplace damaged, there is a chance that your employer could pay you less. However, they have to have a very good reason for doing this. It’s not technically legal for employers to just pay people less, even if they have caused injuries or damages. Instead, they have to take people to court. Wages are fixed and written into people’s contracts. There are not usually clauses in people’s contracts that say that employers can reduce the amount they are paying their staff at whim, regardless of whether they are justified in doing so or not.

6. Work Done Incorrectly

Another time an employer can pay you less than you are owed is if you are working cash in hand, which is when you do not have a formal contract and typically work on a construction yard. If the person employing you does not think you have worked hard enough or if you have made mistakes, they can refuse to pay you. You do not have much legal recourse for reimbursement as you will not have a contract in situations such as these. Still, find a lawyer with good reviews and lots of experience and ask them if they can help you. If you have some evidence to support your case, they may be able to.

7. Not Working

Finally, if you turn up to work and don’t do anything, your employer might want to take disciplinary action against you. This will usually manifest in pay cuts. Employers are not going to want to pay you if you are not working. Even the best lawyer in the world won’t be able to get you your wages if your employer has evidence that you either do not turn up or do not work. Prioritize working hard so that you never have to worry about being paid less than you are owed.

Unpaid wages can happen for a number of reasons. If your wages haven’t been paid correctly, your priority should be on finding out why. Once you know why you have been paid less than expected, you can formulate a plan for getting what you are owed.

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