24

I left my last development job about a month ago. I sent the company my last invoice around that same time.

Since then I haven't received the check, the place of business is very close to my house so I know it wouldn't take long to get here by mail. I emailed my boss twice about it but he hasn't responded to either of my emails. I hate to keep pestering him about it so how can I go about getting my last check from them?

I don't want to just show up to the business unannounced as I feel like that would be unprofessional but it seems like my emails are just being ignored.

Is there a good way to handle this situation that results in me getting my last check?

EDIT: I am a freelance contractor in the state of Illinois.

  • 3
    I was trying to go a route that wouldn't involve a lawyer as the check isn't a large amount of money. I'm guessing the lawyer would cost more than the check. – Sam B Aug 25 '17 at 17:44
  • 11
    You said you sent him an invoice - What type of employee were you? Full-time, direct-hire? Were you an independent contractor? Your rights here are going to vary based on that, as well as your location. – schizoid04 Aug 25 '17 at 17:45
  • 6
    Small Claims court, no lawyer required. – Mister Positive Aug 25 '17 at 18:27
  • 3
    Freelance contractor. – Sam B Aug 25 '17 at 18:27
  • 3
    You might find some good advice over at Freelancing as well. This question in particular is relevant: Should I warn client that I'm going to have to threaten legal action? – David K Aug 25 '17 at 19:13
29

Since you're not an employee, your recourse is much more limited and different than trying to get paycheck would be.

Here's your problem. Legally, there's not a whole lot you can do, because it's not like they're refusing to pay you. They just haven't done it yet. And they can delay a long time if they want to and there's very little you can do except for the standard things any business does when they would collect.

You need to treat it like any other business and call them to collect.

  1. Call and speak to accounts payable. Talk to them and ask when you can stop by to pick up the check. Do that first before calling your boss. Accounting is how businesses pay bills. That will at least give you some information as far as whether they've lost your invoice or if there is a reason it's being delayed.
  2. If you get the run around, then you go to the boss. Since you've already emailed him, call him on the phone and ask him if he can help you with it.

Keep doing 1-2 until you get satisfaction or you can't stand it anymore. At that point, you take them to court. Depending on the amount, you may be able to just take them to small claims court. I'm sure you can prove that the work's been done so it really should be a simple matter. Give them warning though. "If I don't have a check by _____ then I'm filing in small claims court (or pursuing legal action if it's a large amount) and then do it. Just give them plenty of time.

Realistically, they can get away with 90 days before you would sue them. Just pester them a lot by phone. Don't be afraid to stop by to "chat" with your boss if you don't get any satisfaction over the phone.

Just keep the pressure on and if they intend to pay you, this is how you can get paid. If they don't, then unless they're going to file bankruptcy, you'll have to go to court.

Good luck!

  • 14
    Before going to court, I would suggest just having a lawyer send an official letter to the company stating that they should pay or the next steps would be going to court. Or you could draft one up yourself and print two copies, have a notary witness you sign both of them and stamp it. Then keep one for your records and send the other certified mail so they have to sign for it. That way you have some documentation that you notified them. – John K. Aug 25 '17 at 18:34
  • 14
    Pestering them is an effective way of saying "It's going to cost you more to deal with me than it will be to just pay me". Before going to court, sending two letters, one by certified mail and one by regular mail stating "Final notice" and adding a line like "Before additional steps are taken" may get them to move, or not, but it's something that can work and maybe save legal fees. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Aug 25 '17 at 19:24
  • 2
    "they can get away with 90 days before you would sue them" <-- no. If they have agreed to specific payment terms, anything outside those terms is a breach. – Xavier J Aug 25 '17 at 23:24
  • 1
    @XavierJ I'm speaking practicality not technicality. You're going to get laughed at if you sue someone who's at 30 days when they're Net 10. – Chris E Aug 26 '17 at 1:16
  • 2
    omfg, "laughed at" is not a literal statement. Go troll someone else.' – Chris E Aug 26 '17 at 1:21
6

I don't want to just show up to the business unannounced as I feel like that would be unprofessional but it seems like my emails are just being ignored.

Seems that they are also being unprofessional by not giving you your check, besides I see no problem with you showing up to their office asking for your payment. I would first try to call your boss and try to solve it that way.

If the problems persist you would be better consulting a lawyer if you would like to continue trying to get your payment.

  • Totally agree; you have nothing to lose by showing up and asking if your payment was forgotten about...show some nerve; you're a business owner who has a right to be paid as soon as work is completed or per terms on your invoice. You did put terms on your invoice; right? – Debbie Hall Aug 30 '17 at 18:50
4

Just call your boss and ask. Don't assume the worst without solid evidence. For all you know, your boss may have been on vacation and hasn't read your mail.

If you do not have the boss' number, you could contact the company's reception. They should (hopefully) connect you to the boss. If not and you haven't burned bridges, you can set up an appointment to visit the company to discuss the issue.

Absolutely do not take legal route without hearing what the other party has to say. If it turns out that your paycheck was delayed due to some genuine reason, you will not only feel embarrassed but also burn bridges.

3

Next step:

Calling the accounts payable.

Why?

  • they oversee the liabilities of the company from their origin to end and they have an archive
  • they have the best status information on the payment, typically like

    • "this is still pending director's approval, but I think I can remind him here"
    • "this has been approved, it is waiting for next payment run on __/__/____"
    • "we already sent that payment on __/__/____ to account __________________, just call us back if it won't be on your account on ______"
    • "I am sorry, my information shows the payment was held, could you please contact your former manager?"
  • this call typically keeps the temper down, avoiding initially involving persons who can take the inquiry more personally (your managers or directors – sometimes they do)

  • this is proven business process. When a payment is not coming, companies do not find it adequate to call the management of the other company immediately (management are not adequate persons to handle daily payment matters). The first call always goes between accounts payable employees/departments.

    • anecdotal evidence: I saw few times, when a manager or director was called regarding missing payment, they simply said "let me ask our accounts payable and call you back"

do not contact the manager before checking with accounts payable first, it is not very practical nor typical nor professional

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.