1

I have been working as a programming intern for a little over 6 months with a company. The hiring company sends me out to work for another company which in turn pays them.

The "manager" at my office signs off on my timesheets and then I email or fax them in to a secretary at my hiring company to get paid. (1 timesheet ever 2 weeks)

I did not sign any contract with my employer about the exact pay periods, at least to my knowledge.


For the second time during my employment I was not paid on time. I have contacted the secretary multiple occasions and she never replies nor will she answer her office phone. My hiring manager tells me they never received the timesheet I submitted 2 weeks ago.


What do I do in this position? I am a student and I have bills that need to be paid, and they refuse to cut me a check outside of a payroll date (I have to wait 2 weeks til the next pay period). I don't want to sound demanding, but I read the receipt from the fax machine that said it had been sent.

New York State

  • 5
    After faxing it - phone them to ensure that they have a copy. – Ed Heal Oct 3 '15 at 10:42
  • 8
    Would strongly suggest looking for another position -- multiple unexplained payment issues is a big red flag. If a company is having financial problems, the easiest thing for them to do is claim they did not receive your timesheet. You risk not being paid at all should the company go under or otherwise disappear. – mcknz Oct 6 '15 at 22:40
  • You need to look for another job yesterday. – smooth_smoothie Feb 14 '17 at 14:54
15

There could be a couple of things going on here.

  1. Faxes are fallible. Start scanning in or sending an electronic version if they will accept that.
  2. People are fallible. Start sending a second copy to your manager, so he has record you sent it. If you can send via email to the secretary, CC the manager.
  3. You are fallible. Follow up in a traceable format, like email, with a message like 'I faxed my timesheet on Friday. Can you confirm its receipt.' Keep sending these with your manager as a CC until you get a reply.

With work like this, even if you have a contract, you are subject to the system that gets your timesheet through all the channels that get you paid.

Stay on top of #3. Keep bugging them, starting one business day after you send it in, asking for confirmation of its receipt.

  • This is a good idea. I could use email with read receipts on.. the only time I fax is when the office scanner is down. – Christopher Oct 2 '15 at 18:57
  • Except be sure to use the right 'its.' ;) – Aza Oct 3 '15 at 0:26
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    @Christopher read receipts are fallible - many people set up their mail programs to not send them, and those who haven't often click "no" when they're prompted to send them. – alroc Oct 3 '15 at 1:56
2

Drive to the office and tell them to write a check right now.

You can always go to an administrative court to get paid, of course that will end your relationship with your employer.

I do not know what state you are in, but in Massachusetts unpaid wage laws are extremely strict. What you do is go to the state house and fill out a pink form. There will be a hearing in a week or two. You can ask for TREBLE damages (triple what your employer owes you). The judges in this court nearly always grant judgement immediately to the employee. They have extreme power. They can and WILL arrest an employer who is late paying wages and they can and WILL seize cars and houses. Basically as soon as you file that form you are guaranteed to be paid very quickly. Extremely bad things happen to employers who do not pay wages in Massachusetts.

  • I wouldn't want to lose my job over it.. they do eventually pay me.. just not on time and in time to get my bills paid, so I have to beg my loving family to loan me something for the next 2 weeks. – Christopher Oct 2 '15 at 18:58
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    @Christopher Then there is nothing you can do. Personally I would never tolerate an employer that missed a payment, because that indicates a real bad actor, but you may be different. If you think you can "change their behavior", think again. – Socrates Oct 2 '15 at 19:02
  • I would love to leave... unfortunately I need the experience to get any meaningful position after I get my Bachelors in December. – Christopher Oct 2 '15 at 19:04
  • I wonder how that conversation will go. Yes, that student is no longer working for us. Please don't let him in next time he comes in for work. We're sending you someone else. I also wonder how that conversation will play out in front of the judge. So you lost his time sheet, you told him to wait to get paid until the next payroll cycle, he filed a complaint, and now he's out of a job (although, this isn't coming from the client himself). Do I have this right? labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/faq.shtm#17 – Stephan Branczyk Oct 3 '15 at 1:27
  • By the way, New York State is an "employment-at-will" State, but there is a very clear exception to this rule: "Section 215 states that no employer shall penalize any employee for making a complaint to the employer, to the Commissioner of Labor, or to the Commissioner's representative, about any provision of the Labor Law (Violation of § 215 can bring a civil fine and separate civil action by the employee.)" – Stephan Branczyk Oct 3 '15 at 1:36
2

I don't remember where I read it, but paying wages late is a sign of soon bankruptcy. You should start looking for a new job right now and go the way Socrates suggests.

If you rely on that money in time and have no savings, a bankruptcy will hit you really hard, because you will see no money at all. The longer you wait to react, the more debt will pile up.

Would be interested where I read that, so if someone has a link, please add it.

  • 1
    In general I would consider it a sign of a failing company. This looks more like a paperwork issue, though--a sign of disorder, not failure. – Loren Pechtel Oct 3 '15 at 4:25
1

Don't worry about sounding demanding. It's unacceptable to be late on making wage payments, for the very reason that people usually depend on those checks to live.

It sounds like you are working contract? In this case, I'd continue writing stern emails and/or call your agency, and also complain to your boss. The company is paying your agency in part to take care of your wages and paperwork. A good company would want their contractors to be paid on time. Hopefully, the company will help put pressure on the agency to shape up. I imagine also it's likely you're working for that agency because the company has a relationship with them. If enough people complain about them being late on payments or bring in contactable, the company may choose to go elsewhere.

  • Yes, contract work. I have complained to my local 'manager' as well as my hiring manager. My local manager absolutely agrees that it is unacceptable and he wrote my hiring manager an email. But the results were the same "He will have to wait 2 weeks until the next pay period" – Christopher Oct 2 '15 at 19:00
  • I'd push back with your manager. Tell them your financial situation simply does not allow you to wait another two weeks. It's okay to be polite but insistent. You really do depend on that money. You have extra bargaining power if it was indeed the agency's fault they are late. They should be working to fix their mistake. – Kai Oct 2 '15 at 19:11
1

If you are an employee, it is normally up to your employer to ensure that they have the information necessary to pay you on time (typically, this would include contacting you and/or others in the period after the timesheet deadline has elapsed and before the information is needed for payroll).

If you are not an employee but an independent contractor it is typically up to you to invoice companies for billable hours, to chase payment as one business to another.

It sounds like the 'hiring company' is an agency and there may be additional laws in your jurisdiction covering this relationship, but in the first instance it is up to them to pay you, irrespective of what they have or have not received from the client.

The legal recourse in each case will differ significantly, and although generally, absent evidence to the contrary you're normally an employee, you need to find out from your contract, your payslip, or from a qualified professional (union rep, solicitor, etc.) in your area which applies.

While you seek professional advice, I suggest promptly sending a dated letter (of which you keep a copy), explaining the amount you expected to be paid, the period of work the pay covers, the number of hours you're paid for (if this varies), and the date the payment was due.

Follow this up with a phone call. Make it clear that you got the paperwork on time and never heard anything from them to indicate they'd not received it. Don't bring your bills into it. You need enough cash to deal with a missed payment (including if you or they decide to end the relationship), and implying that you are living hand to mouth weakens your bargaining position.

Separately, you should also ask in writing for the signed copy of the terms of your employment (in future: never sign anything you don't get a copy of). You will at some stage want to move from this hiring company to someone who actually pays you on time and you will likely want to know whether you can work direct at your current placement. Obviously, don't tell the hiring company why you want this.

Finally, be on the lookout for other work. If you do accept another position, it's entirely appropriate to explain to your current placement that you are sorry to go but they need to find an agency that pays its staff on time.

0

For the second time during my employment I was not paid on time.

First time, shame on them. Second time? You do not want this to happen a third or fourth time. That would be a shame on you kind of event. If you're still working for them, it probably will happen a third time. Once is possibly a sign of something going wrong procedurally. But twice? That's a sign of a company going out of business, fast.

Full disclosure: I was in a similar situation a long time ago. I definitely felt that it was a shame-on-me kind of event on that third missed paycheck. This happened over the course of several months rather than three paychecks in a row. I was paid, most of the time, but then wham! "We can't make payroll this pay period. We'll make it up to you later." I eventually felt the shame and found a new job.

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