The commissioner of labor and industry is authorized to investigate claims of wage theft and to review employer documentation for wage law compliance. As of July 1, 2019, several new document retention and notice requirements have been placed on employers, and failure to comply will result in harsher punishments than ever before. A summary of the new requirements are outlined below. If you have any questions about the new requirements or want to ensure your business is in compliance, you should consult an attorney.
Notices required to be given to employees at the start of employment
As of July 1, 2019, employers are required to give each employee written notice of the following information at the start of employment:
- Rate of pay and basis thereof (hourly, salary, by piece, etc.) and the specific application of any additional rates;
- Any allowances claimed pursuant to permitted meals and lodging;
- Employment status and whether employee is exempt from minimum wage, overtime, and other provisions of chapter 177, and the basis thereof;
- List of deductions that may be taken from employee’s wages;
- The number of days in a pay period, the regularly scheduled pay day, and the date on which the employee will receive their first paycheck; and
- The employer’s legal name (and operating name, if different), the physical address of the main office or principal place of business (and mailing address, if different), and its telephone number.
This notice must be written in English and must contain the text provided by the commissioner which informs the employee that he/she may request the notice be provided in another language. (Click here for the required notice language: ). The commissioner will assist employers with translating the notice requirements in the requested language.
Employers are required to keep a copy of the notice, signed by the employee acknowledging receipt, in a location which will allow the employer to provide a copy to the commissioner within 72 hours of a request. Employers must also provide, and maintain a copy of, written notice to the employee of any change to the information listed above prior to the date the change will take effect.
Additional information now required on earnings statements
In addition to all previous information required to be outlined on employee earnings statements, the following must now be included:
- The rate(s) of pay and the basis thereof (hourly, salary, by piece, etc.);
- Any allowances claimed pursuant to permitted meals and lodging; and
- The physical address of the employer’s main office or principal place of business (and mailing address, if different) and the employer’s telephone number.
Stricter timeline for payment of employee earnings enacted
As of July 1, 2019, employers must compensate each employee for all wages earned, including salary, earnings, and gratuities, on a pre-designated day to occur at least once every 31 days. All commissions earned by an employee must be paid on a pre-designated day to occur at least once every three months.
What happens if the commissioner knocks at your door?
The commissioner of labor and industry, or an authorized representative, is allowed to enter “without unreasonable delay” places of employment during normal working hours in order to review files and investigate for compliance. The commissioner may, among other things, collect evidence and interview witnesses. Non-management employees may be interviewed in private as part of that investigation. Failure to allow the commissioner to enter may result in a misdemeanor.
What documents do you need to keep on file and available for inspection?
Employers must keep, for a period of three years, and have readily available for inspection the following with respect to each employee:
- Employee’s name, address, and occupation;
- Their rate of pay and amount compensated for each pay period;
- Hours worked each day and each week (or number of pieces completed);
- A list of the personnel policies provided to the employee, including the date the policies were given to the employee and a brief description of the policies;
- A signed copy of the notice that is now required to be given to each employee at the start of their employment (outlined above) and any written changes to the notice; and
- Other information the commissioner finds necessary and appropriate.
Employers must comply with a demand by the commissioner for the above documentation within 72 hours of receipt of the demand.
Please note that there are additional rules for public works projects that are not outlined herein.
Consequences have increased for employers who fail to comply
A. Failure to provide commissioner with requested documents.
An employer who fails to produce documents demanded by the commissioner may face, in addition to a possible misdemeanor charge, a fine of up to $1,000 for each initial failure and up to $5,000 for each repeated failure.
B. Failure to pay wages owed within 10 days of service of demand.
If an employer fails to comply with a demand for payment of an employee’s outstanding wages or commissions within 10 days of service by the commissioner, it may be subject to the following, in addition to liability for the earnings owed to the employee:
- A penalty equal to either the amount of the employee’s average daily earnings or 1/15 of the outstanding commissions (depending which is at issue) for each day beyond the 10 day limit;
- A fine of up to $1,000 for each initial failure and up to $5,000 for each repeated failure;
- Misdemeanor charges; and/or
- Wage theft charges, which would subject the employer to hefty fines and imprisonment. (Click here to learn more about the new wage theft laws).
If the employer does not maintain records sufficient to determine the exact amount of back-wages due to an employee, the commissioner may make a determination based on available evidence.
C. Employer retaliation
An employer found to have retaliated against an employee for asserting his/her rights or remedies for wage theft may face a civil penalty of between $700 and $3,000 per violation.
Employers need to buckle down and take steps to ensure they are in compliance with these new document retention and notice requirements. Failure to do so may result in unnecessary headaches and huge hits to the bottom line. If you are an employer with questions about the new wage laws or need assistance ensuring your business is in compliance, please reach out to one of our employment law attorneys. We would be happy to assist you.
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