Companies often act like their employees don’t deserve trust. Big companies sometimes have incredibly complex and prohibitive contracts that regulate everything from a worker’s personal hygiene to their social media activity. Companies may also warn that taking more than five minutes for bathroom breaks would be time theft or stealing from the company.
Companies can and do terminate workers over the smallest infractions if they cost them money. Yet, companies may engage in the same tactics when stealing wages from their employees. How big of an issue is wage theft, and what does it look like?
Wage theft is a massive issue that takes many different forms
Companies engage in wage theft in multiple different ways. One of the most common is by forcing workers to do jobs off the clock, although many businesses also unjustly deny overtime wages to hourly workers or salaried workers whose pay does not meet exemption criteria.
An employer might also engage in wage theft by tampering with internal time clock records to reduce their payment obligations or deny workers basic breaks.
Other forms of wage theft include:
- Owners and managers insisting on receiving part of a tip
- Denying workers commission or bonuses promised in a contract
- Refusing to pay workers paid time off
- Denying a worker their final paycheck
- Making unauthorized deductions from a worker’s pay
- Paying less than minimum wage
Companies often lie to or fire workers who tried to bring complaints on their own about wage theft. This often warrants employees communicating with other employees about the issue and seeking outside help. Advocating for your right to fair pay can hold a business accountable for its unethical employment practices.