Last year, a bill was being discussed that would discourage employers from illegal wage practices in a few ways, such as making it easier for employees to access information about their pay and hours. Many Oregon workers deal with wage theft every year and this makes it very difficult and stressful to provide for a family. While the original bill did not pass, a separate bill with some of the terms from the original is now in effect. So what does this new bill say? And how can employees protect themselves from wage theft?
What counts as wage theft?
Wage theft refers to any illegal practice regarding an employee’s pay. Some very common types of wage theft are:
· Getting paid below minimum wage
· Not getting paid enough for the number of hours worked
· Not getting overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week
· Being forced to work off the clock without pay
These actions are completely illegal and employees have a right to blow the whistle on their employer when this happens. Many people remain quiet, though, because they fear they will be fired or harassed if they speak up. While employers might retaliate, workers are legally protected and the new bill makes it easier to show that they were victims of wage theft.
New rules about paystubs
The new bill requires much more information to appear on employee paystubs. Some of this information includes hours worked, overtime hours worked, rate of pay, deductions and reason for deductions. It also requires employers to keep wage records for at least three years. Paystubs must be offered in physical form unless the employee agrees to only receive them electronically, but even electronic copies have to provide this same required information.
How does this help? While it is possible an employer could still pay its workers unfairly, this new bill gives employees much more access to payroll information so they can recognize and prove when wage theft is occurring. It also holds the employers more responsible by forcing them to be candid about their wage practices and requiring them to keep payrolls on record for years to come.