Fair compensation in the workplace has gained a national spotlight in recent years with more workers advocating for higher minimum wage, better compensation and recognition that acknowledges each individual’s worth. Unfortunately, unlawful practices still persist, including wage theft, because hourly workers do not know how to recognize them.
There are a few key forms of wage theft that every employee should know.
Withholding overtime pay
Employers must adhere to the regulations governing overtime rates and pay you accordingly for any overtime that you accumulate. Employers who fail to compensate you properly for work hours exceeding the standard workweek despite regulations to the contrary commit wage theft.
Working off the clock
You may not think of it, especially when it only happens for a few minutes at a time, but working off the clock, such as working before you clock in or responding to emails after hours, you are working without compensation. If your employer refuses to compensate you for that time, it may qualify as wage theft.
In professions where tips are a customary part of your compensation, be vigilant about the tips you receive. Some employers unlawfully withhold or misappropriate tips. Be cautious about any type of tip pooling requirement for this reason.
Statistics indicate that approximately 98% of nonunion, low-wage employees in the private sector fail to report wage theft when it happens to them. Whether due to fear of repercussions or unfamiliarity with the laws, those workers lose out on valuable compensation. Understand the common forms of wage theft so you can advocate for what you earn.