I worked for my cousin at her new gym over the last summer and she didn't officially pay me (just in gas money) so I have no official pay stubs or a W-2. I still put this job on my resume because I still count it as work experience. However, for a job I am applying for they mentioned in the interview that for the orientation (once the background check is complete) that I will need to show at least one pay stub to prove employment. This was on paper and wasn't explained so I couldn't ask.

Also, the job probably won't come up on my background check which makes me look like I lied. Should I request my cousin to make a pay stub? If so what could she put on it if she didn't pay me? Thanks for any help!

  • 1
    Why wouldn't it come up on your background check? If it is a legitimate business they can always call and inquire about your prior role there.
    – sf02
    Mar 21, 2019 at 20:03
  • @sf02 Yeah that is true. I think I was just thinking for some reason that it wouldnt because it was a start up business but I listed her as a reference so they could always call. I am still unsure about the pay stub situation though. Thanks for your insight!
    – adsf
    Mar 21, 2019 at 20:09
  • 2
    If you are in the US, the state you are in could be germane. Some states don't allow interviewers to ask for your previous pay, and asking for a pay stub may be included in that. Mar 21, 2019 at 20:15

4 Answers 4


You should ask your cousin for a simple proof of employment, which is a letter with the dates that you worked there, and your role.

This is standard practice elsewhere in the world, not sure if pay-stubs are an American thing. Seems rather strange.

  • 4
    In the US. Never been asked for a pay stub, and don't think I've given one by an employer more recently than 2001 or 2003, everything since has been direct deposit with the option to print one out on demand if I wanted. I might've done the latter once or twice for a financial application. At least in the tech industry what adsf's employer wants feels old fashioned to me. Mar 22, 2019 at 1:30
  • @DanNeely I was under the impression that "pay stub" is the translation for the document you get where your employer details how he got to the amount that was deposited (gross salary, taxes, pension, company lunch, paid to account x). What would you call something like that?
    – Borgh
    Mar 22, 2019 at 8:09
  • 1
    @Borgh, that's correct; that's what a pay stub is. But it's very unusual to be asked for one by an employer. The only time I can recall being asked for one was to prove to an employer that I'd been making a salary similar to what I was requesting, and that was some 15 years ago.
    – user1602
    Mar 22, 2019 at 8:54
  • @Borgh it is. The name comes from it historically being printed on the same piece of paper as the pay check. You'd separate them on perforations, take one part to the bank and keep the other for your records. With direct deposit the money is transferred via computer; so unless you print one out from the payroll system, you won't have one anymore. Mar 22, 2019 at 10:19
  • Ah ok, on closer inspection I misread your original comment "I've given one by an employer" scanned as "I have been given one"
    – Borgh
    Mar 22, 2019 at 12:56

Was there an option to list the "job" as a volunteer or unpaid position?

Oftentimes employers give the option so that relevant work and volunteer experience can still be listed. They may just call a supervisor to confirm since there are no stubs to produce.

  • No they didn't have that option. So I'm not sure where to go from here.
    – adsf
    Mar 21, 2019 at 19:59
  • 4
    Do you have an HR contact? If so, I would call before your first day and explain that the previous role was unpaid and ask what they would like you to bring to orientation.
    – DreDre0623
    Mar 21, 2019 at 20:11

I strongly suggest against ever giving a current or prospective employer a pay stub. They can ask for proof of employment, which has been noted in other answers.

The key here is to not give your employer any information about you other than is absolutely necessary. They can use it against you in a variety of ways.

  • Don't tell him Pike!
    – motosubatsu
    Mar 22, 2019 at 10:22

In the United States employers can pay young employees a "training" wage.

The youth minimum wage is authorized by the FLSA, which allows employers to pay employees under 20 years of age a lower wage for 90 calendar days after they are first employed. Any wage rate above $4.25 an hour may be paid to eligible workers during this 90-day period.

I wonder if the pay stub is being used to see if they qualify for the lower wage.

The Department of Labor has Fact sheet related to this sub-minimum wage:

May an employee be paid the youth wage by more than one employer?

Yes. A youth under 20 may be paid the youth wage for up to 90 consecutive calendar days after initial employment with any employer, not just the first employer. While an employee is "initially employed" only once by any employer, an employee may be "initially employed" by more than one employer. The fact that an eligible youth may be employed simultaneously by more than one employer (unrelated to each other) does not impact either employer's right to pay the youth wage.

Now this makes it clear that they can pay a lower wage even if this isn't your first job, but they could still have a policy that if you worked for X days for somebody else they exempt you from the lower wage.

You have to ask HR.

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