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Holding a paycheck as insurance against employee theft?? Oklahoma

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  • Holding a paycheck as insurance against employee theft?? Oklahoma

    I'm in Oklahoma. I just accepted a job and a friend who just started at the same company gave me a heads-up before I start training, and now I'm curious about this.

    According to the information packet the company sent me I will be paid 2 weeks in arrears, which is how I've been paid at nearly every job and doesn't bother me. Also the company considers any money they pay to feed, house, and transport me during training (at a central location before I am sent out into the world to work) to be an "advance" which converts to a bonus when I have been employed for 60 days. If I do not remain employed for 60 days this "advance" is deducted from any wages due on my last paycheck. I also don't have a problem with this.

    What does worry me is that my friend told me the first two paychecks are for the full amount I should be paid, but the company holds the 3rd paycheck and I won't get paid for a month basically. This is apparently on the off chance you don't remain employed 60 days or you steal something from the company. This amount is apparently given to you later on (you either get it with your last paycheck or when you are re-hired as a permanent employee after the first year). My friend told me a lot of companies hold paychecks and it's common and nothing to worry about. I've never heard of such a thing. Is this a legal practice? I seriously hope he's confused, because the practice sounds shady to me.

  • bethes
    replied
    Just an update

    On my 3rd day of work. Everything is on the up-and-up (except maybe the two weeks in arrears thing).

    The first month I'm paid on salary. Salaried employees are not paid in arrears. After that I switch to day rate (which is technically an hourly pay plus premium and per diem system, but regardless of hours worked you get the same thing so they refer to it as day rate). So on the 3rd paycheck, when that transition is made, my paycheck is almost nothing because of the switch to being paid 2 weeks in arrears.

    Indeed, it is illegal to pay as much in arrears as they do. And I still don't care. I know what I'm getting into and so far everything about this company is top-notch. Pick your battles, kids! It's not worth giving up a good job at an excellent company with a clean safety record (in a highly dangerous workplace) just to nitpick on this. And I actually don't think they would have a problem if I told them. The management are pretty amazing, so far. The exact opposite of nearly every job I have ever had.

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  • bethes
    replied
    Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
    Paying "in advance" is not illegal, but it's poor payroll practice. It doesn't make sense at all. What would happen if you quit in the middle of the pay period? Got sick and couldn't work for a few days. Stupid employer, IMHO.
    If you quit mid pay-period or missed several days and you're paid two weeks in arrears anyway it's pretty easy to deduct anything you owe them from your next paycheck, they have plenty of lead time. It's a weird way to do it but whatever works for them, I guess.

    Here's my take on their reasoning, even if it is a bad policy: the job will appeal mostly to people who have recently graduated from college or are about to. These people are trying to get into an industry that is currently in a slump, and are likely to have been unemployed or seriously underemployed, and may have a hard time paying the out-of-pocket expenses necessary to take the job. The advance pay makes it a little easier because you'll be able to pay your credit card-- or mom and dad-- out of that first paycheck. If you didn't have that advance and your first paycheck was $200 you'd be less likely to take the job because you can't float those extra expenses for 6 weeks until you get your first big paycheck. That's all I could come up with, anyway! Maybe reason has nothing to do with it??

    Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
    I stand by my answer relative to the recovery of their costs if you don't stay, however.
    The pay is high enough that dropping below minimum wage really isn't something they'll have to worry about. I don't think they are doing anything too shady, even if it is weird and messy. I know 5 people who work there and 4 of them have said they are a good employer (the other is my friend who just started, he really hasn't been there long enough to have an opinion). So for now I'm going to trust my friends and if I get to training and it's not kosher... well, that's the beauty of at-will employment .

    Thanks for your input and help!

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  • Pattymd
    replied
    Originally posted by bethes View Post
    However, the employer is allowed 3 days after the regularly scheduled payday to comply, so that adds up to 14-- perhaps that's how they get to 14 days?
    Perhaps, but it's stretching it to the limit. As a payroll manager for many years, with a biweekly or semi-monthly payroll, I can tell you I wouldn't take that chance. So many things can happen that can delay paychecks going out.

    Paying "in advance" is not illegal, but it's poor payroll practice. It doesn't make sense at all. What would happen if you quit in the middle of the pay period? Got sick and couldn't work for a few days. Stupid employer, IMHO.

    I stand by my answer relative to the recovery of their costs if you don't stay, however.

    I don't know, this whole thing just doesn't leave a good taste in my mouth at all.

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  • bethes
    replied
    That's actually kinda funny. Most of the employers I've had in the 10 years I've lived here have paid 2 weeks in arrears, not within 11 days of the end of the pay period. However, the employer is allowed 3 days after the regularly scheduled payday to comply, so that adds up to 14-- perhaps that's how they get to 14 days? As long as I'm not getting shorted on my check I personally don't care if it's 11 or 14 days. Although I definitely prefer an employer who follows the law (it's just nice to feel like it's all kosher) I certainly wouldn't be willing to lose the job just to kibitz about when in a 3 day range I am paid. (Laws aside, I think if you were told before you were hired what your payday will be for a given pay period, that should be sufficient. It's a sad state of affairs that we need to regulate employer-employee relations in such detail. But all it takes is one bad employer and/or one employee with an axe to grind and these things become necessary.)

    I think I figured out what my friend means by them "holding" a paycheck (and I think he's confused about why they "hold" it). It's a weird way to do things, and depending on your situation it can be either a Godsend or really inconvenient, but I don't see anything wrong with it; it all comes out right eventually. So, what happens is for the first month you are paid a training salary, and after the first month you are paid a daily rate. Most training classes begin in the middle of a pay period, but they split the training salary equally between the first two paychecks. Essentially you get 2 weeks' pay on your first paycheck but you've worked less than 2 weeks. So on your 3rd check they even it out by deducting the overpayment on your first check.

    For me (and my friend) it means they will take most of that 3rd check because our respective training begins only a day or two before the end of a pay period. We're being paid for 2 weeks but have only worked for 2 days. It's quirky but given the particulars of the job and situation (which are just going to get confusing if I try to type them out) it actually makes sense to do things that way.

    I think he told me they hold a paycheck because that's what it looks like to him-- and because he's quite imprecise about that type of distinction anyway. He's had several employers hold paychecks, even though I'm pretty sure that's illegal. But those are also the sort of employers who have refused to pay him his last paycheck, refused to provide pay stubs and/or W-2s, hired undocumented workers, or even paid everyone cash and never reported it to the IRS (welcome to rural Oklahoma, right?)

    To answer your question, the training would be beneficial at any similar company. It's pretty basic to the industry.
    Last edited by bethes; 11-20-2010, 06:46 PM.

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  • Pattymd
    replied
    See Section 165.2 here:
    http://www.ok.gov/odol/documents/WHW...ooklet2010.pdf

    So, 14 days following the end of the pay period isn't legal to start with.

    I would also note that, should the costs of training be deducted from your final pay, such deduction cannot take your pay below minimum wage, since that deduction would be, arguably, "for the convenience of the employer".
    http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs16.pdf

    Just for curiosity's sake, what type of "training" are we talking about? Is this training that is specific to this employer, or could the knowledge gained be beneficial to you at any other similar employer?

    This place sounds pretty fishy.
    Last edited by Pattymd; 11-20-2010, 01:56 AM.

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