I have been working in a company for a year now and never had any problems with payments before. On the last day of each month we received our payments (not even a day late).

For the last few months, my boss has handed out the paycheques to all employees on time, except me. When I asked him the reason for this, his answer was that he wanted to see if there were any days that I hadn't been at work (due to sickness, etc) so that he could remove them from the total amount to be payed. That was done 3 months in a row, the same excuse, but he did pay me eventually even for a week late.

On the 1st of January, I was expecting my paycheque but I didn't receive it. The rest of the employees were again paid on time but he didn't pay me. A few days later (he still hasn't paid me for December) I asked him what was the reason for all the delay and he gave me some lame excuses and asked me if it was ok to pay me for the 2 months (Dec & Jan) at the end of January. When I replied that I really need the money ASAP, he said that he would pay me right away... which he hasn't... yet!

How do I complain to him in a polite (but effective) way, that this is not acceptable anymore? I don't want to risk of losing my job, but on the other hand, I can't accept being the last employee to get paid every month.

I hope I haven't confused you much with my question! :)

  • 24
    Pick any two: complain / be polite / get what you want
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 10:55
  • 32
    Has your boss given any indication why it's only you? Perhaps that's the question to start with...?
    – Jane S
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 11:06
  • 11
    By not giving your your paycheck, the boss has given up any right and any expectation of politeness.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 12:22
  • 45
    What country is this? In a lot of countries what your boss is doing is just simply illegal.
    – J...
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 14:47
  • 14
    @Lilienthal wouldn't everybody choose "be polite" and "get what you want"? Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 18:08

6 Answers 6


Unless you're making substantially more than your colleagues AND your company is in financial trouble, this isn't about your paycheck at all. It's a communication problem.

Ask him bluntly what the real problem is. If he balks, point out that you haven't been paid on time in months. "Are there financial problems? Are you unhappy with my work? I'm getting the feeling you're basically asking me to leave." Fix the communication problem with blunt but professional talk. Don't act defensive or even cast the shadow of defensiveness--but put the issue of your work on the table so he understands that he's sending this message.

If there is a financial problem, get information and weigh your options. By the time payroll is impacted, things are bad. Is there a significant, positive financial event in the immediate future? If not, get your resume out TODAY.

If he's just being a manipulative jerk, get your resume together and expect to have him steal your last paycheck. Time your exit accordingly.

  • 3
    I can hardly believe the company has financial problems; then other employees would have the same. OR the boss had to do it in shifts, like first employee A-Y then Z, then B-Z and then A etc. But it's just hard to believe. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 14:09
  • @JoshuaBakker, yeah, the third paragraph is more for completeness than likelihood in the OP's case. But in the 2nd paragraph I'd still raise that issue, because it delineates possible "nice guy" reasons pay has been unstable, and gives over the benefit of the doubt. It's almost like saying "You can't be the big of a @$$, do you have money problems?". It's less confrontational.
    – jimm101
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 14:16
  • 37
    "expect to have him steal your last paycheck" should lead to "contact your local/state labor board to get not only your paycheck, but penalties and fees". (Of course, you could likely already do that, assuming he hasn't been paying you by the state-mandated deadline.)
    – Adam V
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 16:00

Honestly, I'd find another job ASAP. A company's first priority SHOULD be making payroll, even if that means the owners don't get paid. Unless you're an owner or in a top exec position AND the company is in serious trouble AND you're aware of it, you shouldn't have to worry about stuff like this.

There are two possibilities here: You're getting jerked around by your boss intentionally OR the company is having trouble making payroll. Either one is a really bad sign.

Early in my career, I worked for a small company that started having difficulty paying employees with no explanation from management. I was lucky and got out right away. When the company went under, there were employees that hadn't been paid in months. I don't know if they ever did.

  • 10
    Early in my working days (read: naive), I started at a job where they told me right off that pay was going to be delayed for a few paychecks. Three weeks later, they went under. I received a check for $100 but it wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. I never saw a penny. The moral? If a company is regularly having trouble making payroll, they're already dead. Cut your losses and get out.
    – Marsh
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 18:15
  • While delay/deferral of pay is a huge red flag, it doesn't necessarily mean the company is dead. In the case I know, it caused the loss of some top management and others, but the reformed management team was honest, open, and steered the company steadily back to profitability and growth. Of course, there's a big risk in staying with a company in that situation, but if you can afford it, and trust the people concerned, there can be a chance of it paying off well.
    – gidds
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 11:39

Not paying you once is a bad sign, twice is time to move on. Then contact your local government agency that deals with Labor laws and ask them for help in getting the pay you are owed. Make sure you print out and take with you any proof you have that you worked the days in question before you leave.

  • 4
    This is a legal problem. Almost everywhere in the world has legal standards for being paid on time and for hours worked. Talk to a local employment lawyer or government office. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 16:18

Obviously it's his responsibility to pay you on time, and if he needs to do any admin first (true or not) then it's his responsibility to get that done in time so that he can pay you.

In the short term - he's said he'll pay you for this month and hasn't - your only choice is to chase him regularly. Go to him in person and ask if he can pay you now. If not, get a firm commitment from him when he will, and be specific - don't take 'the end of the week', make it 'Friday lunchtime'. If that's more than a few days away then go back to him a day or two before the deadline and remind him, and check he's still prepared to pay you on time. The important thing is not to take any vagueness or any excuses. Ask if it'd help to talk to his boss if you can. If you do walk away from a conversation without getting all the answers you need then don't be afraid to turn around and talk to him again. It's perfectly reasonable to nag and chase him over this - he's letting you down.

If he does miss an agreed deadline then you're well within your rights to act annoyed and disappointed, and (without raising your voice) demand an explanation, and a new firm commitment that he'll definitely hit. Ditto try and escalate this to his boss too, and don't take any excuses.

For future months you can chase him in advance: shortly before the end of the month send him a timesheet with your days worked, illnesses and absences. Follow that up in person and check that if there's anything else he'd need to pay you on time, and get him to agree that he will pay you on time. Nobody likes to be nagged, and it can be uncomfortable doing the nagging, but until you reliably get paid on time you're going to have to.

I'm never a fan of saying 'leave your job' but you do definitely need to get to the bottom of why this is happening as it really doesn't sound good. Again you're well within your rights to have that conversation with your boss (and his boss) and not take any excuses.


As others have said seek legal advice

* * * Immediately * * *

  1. Communications

    • What forms are useless (many countries verbal is worthless)
    • What forms are best (emails weave a very sticky web, how can you deny receiving an email you have replied to)
  2. What Evidence do they need

    • To prove the delay in pay
    • To prove you worked what you say you did
    • To prove your co-workers are being paid on time
    • To prove you are being discriminated against (Seriously why only you!?)
    • To prove any fees or charges incurred by the lack of payment. (Bank account going overdrawn incurring a fee or charge, or missed credit card or loan payment. Your employer has caused it they should pay it.)
  3. What you should and should not say or do

    • How should you agree on a payment deadline. (A legally binding form?)
    • Talking to your co-workers. (Be careful of their allegiances)
    • They will know more of what should go under this heading.

Look for a new job, but tell no one (In some countries it can weaken your case, or reduce your compensation). Your job is on the rocks, you might not need to take it, but alarm bells are ringing.


This may be off topic, but shouldn't all the warning bells have gone off when he didn't inform you about "not being paid for a few months" prior to withholding you paycheck? If it's not to late request confirmation in writing about this. If he doesn't within 24hours tell him your going over his head and follow through. Bosses can be hard to deal with for a lot of reasons. As for you concerns about being fired, employment implies payment for services. You should let him know that you only volunteer for charity cases.

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