My Employer didn’t give me a Paystub: Here’s what to do

Your paystub for every pay period is a critical financial document, confirming your income and allowing you to share proof of how much you make. Typically, a checkstub will contain your identification details like name and Social Security Number with your gross income, deductions, benefits, and net income. It will also reflect the pay rate and corresponding pay period for which it got issued. The internet now abounds in free check stub makers and payroll management software to streamline this crucial business component.

In light of all the details that paystubs contain, what happens if your company doesn’t share one? The prospect can appear as daunting as not getting paid at all! In this article, let us discuss the federal and state laws on this subject and the action you can take if your organization withholds your checkstub.

Is your Paystub Important?

The short answer is yes, very much! Your paystub is one of the most crucial financial documents, whether you are a full-time employee, part-time worker, or self-employed. It reflects your earnings in a period, including any deductions and benefits, and reveals the net income you make after taxes. You can use a paystub as proof of income when applying for loans, credit cards, medical insurance, etc. It may also be necessary when you wish to apply for a new job.

Without a paystub, you will find it challenging to track how your company is paying you. What if an error has crept into the payroll processing for a certain month? What if the taxes that the IRS has deducted are more than what is suitable for your pay grade?

Many professionals use checkstubs to plan their monthly budget and examine their incomes across different streams if they have multiple jobs or run extra shifts. Even self-employed professionals and part-time workers need paystubs. You may opt for a paystub online to expedite the process.

Can your Employer Legally Withhold your Paystub?

Simply put, it is not illegal for your company not to share a paystub with you – at least not in every state of the US. The law governing this – the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – requires an employer to record your wages and the number of hours you work for a minimum of three years. However, the FLSA does not necessitate that all employers must share paystubs with their employees.

Employer Legally Withhold your Paystub
Employer Legally Withhold your Paystub

Depending upon where you work, the state laws may require your organization to share checkstubs with all the necessary payment information. All US states fall under one of these categories:

  1. Access states:

Most US states require employers to share payment information with their employees. It could be a physical checkstub or an electronic record of the wages and other details. Do you live in New Jersey, Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan, or Wisconsin? Your company must share payment details in a pay period.

  1. Access or Print states:

These US states go one step further. Your firm must share payment information and make sure it is a printed or written document. If your company uses electronic stubs, it must ensure you can print them out. Some states in this category are California, Colorado, Iowa, Vermont, and Washington.

  1. No requirement states:

These states don’t need an employer to share paystubs with their staff. They can decide whether they want to disclose or withhold payment information. Some no requirement states include Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Ohio, and Georgia.

  1. Opt-in state:

This category requires an employee to consent to a paperless system of receiving paystubs. If you wish to access a printed copy, your enterprise will provide it to you. Presently, Hawaii is the only opt-in state in the US.

  1. Opt-out states:

These states adopt a physical mode of sharing paystubs, usually included with the paycheck. However, if the organization switches to a paperless approach, the employees must issue their consent. They can specify if they wish to continue to receive printed checkstubs, thus effectively opting out. Opt-out states in the US include Delaware, Minnesota, and Oregon.

 Can you ask Former Employers to Share Paystubs?

It should usually be straightforward to recover copies of old paystubs from previous employers. You can contact your former supervisor and submit a request. You may have to enter details like your mailing address, social security number, employee identification number, and the dates for which you need the records. Some organizations may charge an administrative fee and send you the information within a few business days.

Why do some Employers Withhold Paystubs?

 If your firm is legally required to share checkstubs with you but continues to withhold them, the reasons are mostly grim.

  • It could simply be a case of inertia: Let us face it – some organizations are just lazy! If the HR or Finance team manages payroll, perhaps the responsible personnel skipped generating paystubs for the pay period. It could also be a thinly veiled attempt to save payroll costs. Maybe, the free paystub maker that your company uses for payroll management has malfunctioned or run out of its trial/subscription period.
  • They could be breaking the law by avoiding FICA taxes: Your company may be making deductions from your paycheck and not sharing an itemized listing of the details. It is illegal to deduct more than is due – and this is a legit reason some employers may go hush-hush about sharing paystubs.
  • They could be preventing you from taking action: If you don’t have paystubs, you will find it tricky to make a case for labor law violation. You will also struggle to get assistance from Social Security Services.

Action Plan if your Employer does not Share Paystubs

So, now that we discussed the legal aspects of paystubs, what can you do on the ground if your office withholds your wage-related information?

  1. Confirm the category of your state: Do you work in an access or print state where employers are mandated to share paystubs with their employees? Many states allow employees to view information related to their pay period, rate of pay, etc. You can check this on the official website of the Internal Revenue Service.
  2. Bring it to the notice of the concerned authority: What if it is a simple error or omission? Alert the HR or Finance team about the situation depending on who handles the payroll management at your firm.
  3. Request to see your personnel file: Your organization will maintain your employment records in a personnel file. You can request this information to confirm your job details, pay rates, etc., as recorded by your company. Most states have laws that bind them to share this information upon request. Your office can face penalties if they ignore or delay the demand inadvertently.
  4. Discuss the issue with colleagues: Are your colleagues also getting treated similarly? It can signal a deep-rooted problem in the organization. Before heading to the final step of legal action, we would advise you to document the problem as well as possible.
  5. Take legal action: Are you legally entitled to access payment information, but your company is still withholding it? You can file a complaint with the labor union or corresponding body for employee grievances. The Fair Labor Division is the perfect place to contact since it deals with issues related to the payment of wages. You can also sue your employer in a law court by consulting an attorney.

Can your Employer get penalized for not sharing Paystubs?

 Yes. If you take legal action for non-compliance, your company will have to share the required records with you. In addition, they may also have to pay penalties, with the amount varying across states. In California, for instance, you can get around $4,000 if your company refuses to share checkstubs with you. In New York, employees can receive up to $250 per violation, up to $5,000 per employee. Your company may also have to face an audit by the Department of Labor (DOL). It is a situation that most organizations wish to avoid.

When you join a new organization, it is worth confirming whether you will receive paystubs or have access to any payment information. Ascertaining it at the outset will prevent confusion and heartache in the future. You can also introduce an online paystub generator like at your firm to simplify creating wage records and ensuring cost benefits over time.

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