When you’re spending time (and effort) working for someone, there’s nothing worse than finding out that you haven’t been paid for everything that you’ve earned. Regardless of whether the error was intentional or accidental, allowing unpaid wages to accumulate can cause growing frustration between you and your employer.

Here are the 8 different types of unpaid wages that we see most commonly:

  1. Unpaid overtime
    This is when an employer either fails to pay for overtime, or doesn’t pay the correct amount for overtime. This can happen more frequently in jobs where you’re asked to work after hours (but not track time), or when you have extra duties that you have to perform after your work shift has been completed. However, unpaid overtime can exist in all kinds of jobs.
  2. Unpaid sales commissions
    Sales commission agreements can be complicated and easily abused by employers so it’s important to know exactly when and how commissions should be paid, and to keep track of sales (or other events) that generate commission so you know when and how you’re being paid.
  3. Unpaid bonuses
    Bonuses that may be contractual or based on business performance can often be forgotten about, so you should make sure you know what bonuses you are due and the circumstances for those bonuses to be paid.
  4. Unpaid business expense reimbursements
    If you’re consistently spending money on work-related expenses, you’ll want to make sure you’re tracking those expenses, submitting them for reimbursement, and making note when items get reimbursed. You should also make sure that your employer isn’t encouraging (or mandating) that you pay for work-related expenses without repayment.
  5. Meal/rest break violations
    Federal and state laws allow employees the opportunity to take meal & rest breaks throughout the day. Many times, these breaks are supposed to be “free from work”, which means you can’t be forced to continue to be available for work during the breaks. When employers make you stay at your station, or continue to be available during your breaks - they could be violating your meal & rest breaks.
  6. Independent Contractor Misclassification
    When an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor, it often makes other wage and hour violations possible. If you’re an independent contractor and you think you should actually be considered an employee - you should talk with an attorney.
  7. Exempt Employee Misclassification
    Certain types of employees are often misclassified as exempt vs non-exempt by just changing the name of the position. However, the exempt status isn’t based on the position itself, it’s based on other factors including pay, and job duties.
  8. Bounced Paychecks
    Employers are required by law to have enough money to cover all employee paychecks for 30 days after the date of issue. And if something happens, and a paycheck bounces, employers are required to pay all unpaid wages immediately.

If you believe you’re missing out on unpaid wages, it’s important to know that you can recover those wages, including any applicable interest and penalties. This can easily result in tens of thousands of dollars, all the way up to hundreds of thousands. But there are limitations on how far back you can collect, so it’s always a good idea to speak with an employment lawyer to find out what options you have.

Author's Bio: 

Drew Lewis, PC represents employees in complex and high stakes employment disputes. Our clients include c-suite executives, founders, professionals in technology, finances and services industry including lawyers, doctors, insurance brokers, real estate agents to name just a few.