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Wage Claims Issues: Common Payment Errors

Wage Claims lawsuits are more prevalent now than at any other time in American history. This continuing series aims to inform the public about wage issues and how to address them.

COMMON PAYMENT ERRORS

Proper payment of wages is more complex than simply writing a check. Understanding how to properly pay employees helps employers avoid costly wage claims lawsuits. As discussed below, designating a regular work week schedule, establishing a correct rate of pay and understanding your employees' entitlement to pay are three major considerations when paying an employee.

A. Work Week

Properly designating the beginning and end of an employee's work week is important. For example, the day an employer chooses to start an employee's work week affects how much overtime to which an employee is entitled.

In California, employees working over 40 hours a week (or 8 hours a day) are entitled to overtime. Employees working different hours on different days may be paid overtime depending on the start and stop of their work week.

B. Rate of Pay

Non-exempt employees are entitled to minimum wage, currently $8.00 per hour in California (and rising). All California non-exempt employees are also entitled to overtime pay- one and one half times the employee's standard rate- when working more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day. Employees are also entitled to doubletime pay when working over 12 hours a day or on their seventh day of work. Paid or unpaid lunch breaks may also affect whether overtime should be paid.

C. Entitlement to Pay

The California Wage Orders define "hours worked" as "the time during which an employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so." An employee, subject to an employer's control, does not necessarily have to be "working" during that time to be compensated under a wage order.

Deducting money from an employee's wages due to his/her tardiness without the employee's written consent is usually illegal and ill-advised. It is also usually innapropriate to deduct from an employee's pay for non work-related issues such as past debts, poor work performance or misuse of time.

Michael Freeland

Michael Freeland's Wage Claims Issues series will continue with "Documentation"

Contact Freeland Law APC for a free 30-minute consultation with Michael Freeland, experienced employment lawyer serving La Mesa, California.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.