Labor code and your paycheck stub


California law requires nine (9) specific pieces of information to be included on the paycheck or paystub of every employee. Failure to comply with each and every requirement of this code section (Labor code section 226) is a misdemeanor.  The employer is liable for $50 for the first violation, and $100 per pay period for each violation thereafter up to a total per employee of $4,000. Individually, the claim may not be large but collectively it can be very large indeed. (Note that if you have a claim for unpaid overtime or break time, you likely also have a claim for pay stub violations. For hourly employees, the overtime hours you worked but were not paid for almost always are missing from your pay record -i.e. you worked 55 hours but were told to put down 40 hours because the company doesn’t pay overtime, your overtime wasn’t approved etc.-  That is an inaccurate record and therefore a pay stub violation.)  Frequently, employers put the wrong address or no address.  Small businesses sometimes provide no information on the pay stub or pay out of a personal account with no record at all.  If you sue and win you get your damages plus attorneys fees and costs. If you lose your case, the employer does not get attorneys fees but can recover costs (filing fees etc.).  The following is the text of the statute(with minor changes)

Every employer shall, semimonthly or at the time of each payment of wages, furnish each of his or her employees, either as a detachable part of the check, draft, or voucher paying the employee’s wages, or separately when wages are paid by personal check or cash, an accurate itemized statement in writing showing

“(1) gross wages earned;

(2) total hours worked by the employee, except for any employee whose compensation is solely based on a salary and who is exempt from payment of overtime; [this is a critical requirement; if you worked 50 hours you deserve to be paid for 50 hours. False documentation of hours worked provides penalties in addition to the overtime monies owed].

(3) the number of piece-rate units earned and any applicable piece rate if the employee is paid on a piece-rate basis;

(4) all deductions, provided that all deductions made on written orders of the employee may be combined and shown as one item;

(5) net wages earned;

(6) the inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid;

(7) the name of the employee and his or her social security number, except that by January 1, 2008, only the last four digits of his or her social security number or an employee identification number other than a social security number may be shown on the itemized statement;

(8) the name and address of the legal entity that is the employer, [this is very important] and

(9) all applicable hourly rates in effect during the pay period and the corresponding number of hours worked at each hourly rate by the employee.

The deductions made from payments of wages shall be recorded in ink or other indelible form, properly dated, showing the month, day, and year, and a copy of the statement or a record of the deductions shall be kept on file by the employer for at least three years at the place of employment or at a central location within the State of California.”

Be sure to check your paystub for compliance with California law.  Aside from the statutory damages it’s a good idea to know who your employer actually is and what type of business they are (corporation, partnership, and so forth). In addition, violations are potent tools to gain leverage in other disputes you may have with your employer.

Your employer MUST show you your payroll records within 21 days of your request. (Labor Code section 226 (c),(f),and (g). If the employer does not show you the records within that time you may sue to compel the employer to produce them to you.  Again, if you win, you get attorneys fees and costs.  If you lose the employer does not get attorneys’ fees. (Note: if your request is in writing and is dated, whether by certified mail or by an email, losing this claim if records are not produced would be almost impossible.) Cross refer: Right to inspection of personnel file.