What To Do If Your Company Is Cheating You
Sometimes something that seems like it isn’t right is just simply wrong. If your wages, tips, commission or benefits from your employer seem a bit on the thin side, you should start investigating the cause, and if you feel as though you are being cheated, you should take immediate action. So, what can you do to prevent such a slight from happening, or correcting a situation already in progress?
Here are eight pointers to ensure you are getting all you deserve:
1. Get Paid Agreements in Writing Prior to Starting a Job
This is a preventative action, and it is, of course, completely dependent on the classification of the job performed. For example, an independent contractor should have some type of contract.
However, most hourly or salaried work should also have a document stating compensatory expectations. You should never depend upon a verbal agreement when it comes to your pay. If there ever is a disagreement, it will be the employer’s word against yours, and you will not have a leg to stand on. Also, beware of those employers that offer to pay you “under the table.” You will not be able to report any discrepancies in the wages paid to you if there ever is a future issue.
2. Refrain from Making Accusations
As much as it may sting to realize that your employer has been taking advantage of your good nature, it can only breed resentment if you start acting accusatory. You should get your facts straight first.
3. Report Anything Suspicious to Your Boss or HR
The previous point being said, don’t sit on it. While you shouldn’t assume the worst, you should have such ‘mistakes’ examined further. It may have happened simply by accident. Report your findings to a person higher up on the proverbial ladder and see what can be done to correct the situation.
If the problem is widespread, and it affects your co-workers as well, you should consider approaching the boss as a team. Usually pay and benefit issues affect several individuals and not just one employee. If more than one of you is experiencing the same problem, it may be better to present a united front.
4. Examine Each Pay stub Thoroughly
Ensure that you are receiving your promised minimum hourly rate. Provincial law states that this rate must be the least you may be paid for each hour worked. Every province has its own stated minimum wage, and as a resident of that area, you must be paid at that rate. Also, keep track of the hours that you worked each week. Are they all accounted for on the stub? Verify that you are getting paid overtime at a rate of one and a half times your stated pay rate for any hours worked in excess of a forty-hour work week. Again, this is federal law, and it is enforceable.
Another item you need to be aware of is payroll deductions. While your employer should be paying your taxes on your behalf, any excess charges are not legally feasible. For example, they may not charge for uniforms or use of company-owned equipment.
Also, if there are any changes in pay, such as insurance payments or bonuses, these should be shown on your stubs immediately. If they are not clearly shown, this will need to be addressed as soon as possible. Remember, you make insurances payments for a variety of reasons. Picture a long term situation where you believe you are covered, but you really are not. You may be thinking, “My Long-Term Disability Claim was Denied: What Now?” Computers can make mistakes, because the input does come from human beings, who are indeed fallible.
5. Be Vigilant with Retirement Accounts and Investments
Your money should be accrued in accordance with your employer’s original agreement. If this is not happening, you must get to the bottom of the situation. Many times, with such accounts, fraud and embezzlement take place because no one looks at them on a daily basis, when they should be thoroughly vetted at least monthly.
6. Start Keeping your Own Records
With offices and factories, you are pretty much guaranteed the same hours each day, and they are not likely to change. However, if you do find yourself working many hours of overtime, or you are working on a special project, write down all hours worked. That said, in a retail or food service job, record keeping is crucial. If travel is part of your employment, it should be accounted for.
Any break less than twenty minutes should also be considered paid time on the clock. Also, keep records of sales that you are supposed to gain a commission from, and tips that should equal the minimum wage for each hour worked. Another item you should track is any employment-related expenses. You should keep files of all receipts, for not only reimbursement purposes, but so you can also get adequate tax credits in the future.
7. File a Complaint with a Professional Oversight Board
If you have exhausted all other options and your company has failed to respond to your concerns, you have every right to file a complaint with either your local labor agency, or, if plausible, the Federal Labor Program. Each board will enforce local, provincial, and federal labor standards, and will address each complaint thoroughly, taking even minute matters seriously.
8. Consider an Attorney’s Advice
If your employer has repeatedly denied cheating you out of your pay or benefits, and the labor agency is dragging its feet with regard to an investigation, it may be worth your time and money to consult a lawyer. While more drastic cases may require serious litigation, many time discrepancies over smaller amounts and losses of benefits can be resolved in your area’s small claims court.
If this is the case, an attorney will probably not be needed, but his or her advice can be invaluable. According to the article from Preszler Law entitled “My Long-Term Disability Claim was Denied: What Now?”, disability cases and Internal appeals can take months and even years to resolve, so an attentive lawyer should always provide their clients with case updates and be available for contact.
If the matter is widespread across the company, you may want to look into the opportunity of filing a class action suit. Banding together with fellow wronged employees gives your case merit and will make your cause look a bit more attractive to skilled lawyers. Most lawyers worth their salt will not take on cases that are not likely to be profitable for them.
It can be devastating to learn that you are not fully benefiting from your hard and diligent work. And even though you should be able to trust your employer wholeheartedly, it is smart to put a few provisions in place and have a solid plan in advance of any problem that may occur. Incorporating the pointers above should keep you safe and protected in the long run.
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