52

Each week our boss gives us payslips with our hours worked and we can cash them right at the place of work. Pretty simple. You get a receipt for your hours worked for the week and a slip to turn into the cash register for payment. If a worker needs a regular "paycheck" instead of cash, that is also arranged. Or if they want their money auto-deposited, that is another option available.

So, we have this one waitress that has worked there for 7 years. She comes in the other day with some of these "payslips" that are almost three years old. She said she found them in an old purse in her closet. She never cashed them in. Now she wants me to bring them into the office to see if they are any good.

How is this situation handled? The amount of all the slips is almost $300.00.

  • 19
    Do the payslips have an expiry date? – Hart CO Jan 14 at 23:45
  • 135
    I don't understand why there's any question? If this employee is a good employee (and after working there for 7 years, she must be), unless you find her to be particularly untrustworthy, just pay her - if she's working full time, $300 must be less than 1% of her annual pay, so even if she's scamming you (on purpose or by accident), it's not a lot of money. – Johnny Jan 15 at 5:09
  • 76
    @Johnny The only question I can see is "I don't have an accounting system, so what do I do now something has happened and I need one?" The only answer IMO is "be thankful this is only an issue over allegedly unpaid bills for $300, and not for $300,000." At least it's not worth going to court over $300, though she can still bad mouth you and you don't have many options to redress that - firing a long-term employer because (in her opinion) you never paid her wages isn't going to be good business publicity. – alephzero Jan 15 at 14:14
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    Surely this restaurant pays taxes? So, presumably, it has someone with the title “accountant”? Who has head of double entry bookkeeping? What’s the plan if the restaurant gets audited? – Mawg Jan 15 at 14:17
  • 23
    @Mawg I'm guessing that an employer that handles paychecks in this fashion is paying these employees under the table. Handing out cash in exchange for time-slips seems to me that they are not reporting these wages. – Rich Jan 15 at 15:41
190

You (or whoever is responsible for that) look into the old books to see if the payslips were paid out. There should also be a folder with old payslips where the ones in question should be missing.

After that, the person in charge of cashing them in can safely do so.

If there is no such thing, you(r manager) should cash in the slips as the price for an important lesson, start doing normal bookkeeping and be happy the business has survived for so long. No business should be giving out thousands of dollars over years to employees without any proof of where that money went or even how much money went out.

  • 48
    This. Surely there's a easily accessible paper trail that would reveal whether any payment was made. – Jack Aidley Jan 15 at 11:55
  • 12
    Best case the books should show a liability of wages not yet claimed (which is created when the payslips are made and normally moves on to costs for wages once paid out). – cbeleites Jan 15 at 12:37
  • 66
    Just be thankful it's an employee asking questions, and not the IRS – Mawg Jan 15 at 14:14
  • 14
    @JackAidley Many small businesses don't learn the value of the paper trail until they are burned by the lack of it. – Myles Jan 15 at 18:28
  • 6
    At which point the IRS is allowed to estimate your actual income and levy tax upon it. I doubt that they often underestimate. This one is unlikely to end well. – Mawg Jan 16 at 7:38
70

Talk to the owner or the manager. You don't want to be responsible for paying money for a payslip that already has been paid.

As you have noted this is highly unusual for somebody to hold onto these payslips. While it looks like they were never paid there might be some other story. Maybe they were lost and the restaurant replaced them, and they will no longer honor the original ones.

Don't pay any money until somebody with additional authority has approved them and takes responsibility for the situation.

  • 3
    Right on. There are so many unknowns here, you don't want to be the one making the calls if it could mean your butt on the line (assuming of course that OP isn't able to verify this pay history themselves). – Broots Waymb Jan 15 at 14:29
  • 3
    The other day I found $80 in the pocket of pants that I have not worn for over five years, so it might not be that unusual. – trognanders Jan 18 at 9:01
14

Now she wants me to bring them into the office to see if they are any good.

Why are you invovled?
Why isn't she coming to the office?

How is this situation handled?

Give them back to her and let her bring them in.

Explain that you aren't authorized to cash anything except the ones that you hand out weekly, and let her take it up with someone senior to you (or someone like an accountant who can research this).

  • 2
    We don't know the asker's position in the business. If they're a shift supervisor or the cashier or some similar position, it's reasonable for the waitress to go to them. – Mark Jan 15 at 22:00
  • 8
    @Mark The original post was "Diana Head Waitress". My advice is that a head waitress shouldn't deal with three year old pay vouchers. Lots of things could be in play after three years. An example is the state's escheatment laws. (click on the "Edited X hours ago" to see the edits) – J. Chris Compton Jan 15 at 22:12
  • 4
    Well, I'm guessing the OP is involved because they have some level of management responsibility over the waitress, the process described for getting paid seems to be go to a random cash drawer, exchange slip for money and the waitress knows that just doing that this time around will be problematic and is smartly going up the chain to someone who can figure out what exactly should be done. Hierarchy typically has you report to your immediate supervisor with such questions rather than knocking immediately on the CEO's door. – iheanyi Jan 17 at 16:01
  • 1
    @iheanyi What you posted is correct in general about hierarchy - and my advice is step aside / pass her up the chain. Honestly, I smell a rat because the other employee wants OP to bring them in for her. If it was up-and-up she would be asking this question at the workplace. The whole "cash your own payslip" also seems fishy to me, (two sets of books?) but that's not her question. – J. Chris Compton Jan 17 at 16:59
  • 1
    @iheanyi Maybe we are saying the same thing? I said that OP should "Give them back to her and let her bring them in." By that I meant that the OP should give the old pay-stubs back if she has them, and tell the other employee to talk to someone else above her. Whatever OP's role is, and that is unclear, her role doesn't seem to involve payroll (except passing out the checks and getting signatures). – J. Chris Compton Jan 17 at 21:22
7

If the payslips are genuine, and if you're confident there is no scam going on, then you should pay. To be safe, you should check with your manager first.

  • 2
    I would say this is very bad advice. If this is a scam, being "confident there is no scam going on" is exactly what the scammer is banking on. Don't assume anything, and take this higher up. – ohyeah Jan 15 at 8:00
  • 3
    @ohyeah I agree that the individual asking the question shouldn't just pay up on the strength of their own "confidence", but it's absolutely worth remembering that if the story is correct then this is money that the employee is owed in exchange for work already done, so in that respect it absolutely should be paid up when it is verified. – Rob Moir Jan 15 at 8:15
  • Even if there's no scam, there could be a mistake. The waitress might have lost these pay stubs, requested replacements at the time, and then forgotten about the whole thing by now. – ruakh Jan 16 at 0:42
  • @ohyeah aren't they in the same position with regular payslips? Assuming there's no scam going on and not verifying with management that the payslips contain accurate information? Barn door is already open. – iheanyi Jan 17 at 16:02
  • Working 7 years as a waitress just to scam the restaurant out of $300 would be quite the long con. – stannius May 29 at 17:44
-7

Be aware that depending on which US state you are in, it is quite possible that these payslips are no longer valid, even if they are genuine.

It also matters whether the waitress has a written work contract. Depending on these parameters, the corresponding statue of limitations may say anything from "1 year" to "20 years".

So, in addition to making sure that the payslips are genuine, and in addition to cross-checking the books for a double charge-in, you should first of all be sure the period of limitation for your specific scenario hasn't passed (this is faster and easier to do than checking the books, if you're lucky you need not do that, after all).

Failure to do so may end with you having to explain to your manager, and probably refunding the money, if this goes the wrong way.

  • 31
    Yes, screwing a long term employee out of 300 dollars due to legal reason might be easier. But it's definitly not wiser. And economically the cost of an unhappy employee and a bad reputation will cost a lot more. – DonQuiKong Jan 15 at 14:18
  • 11
    If the owner has any idea about leading a company, they will see it that way. I don't understand the communism part, it doesn't seem to have any connection to the rest of my comment, your answer or the question. Can you explain? – DonQuiKong Jan 15 at 14:38
  • 12
    Employee worked, didn't get paid. I don't see how this situation ends in any way other than 'employee gets paid'. It's not about whether or not you need to honor these payslips. The employee should have been paid. It's not their fault (legally) that they weren't. – xyious Jan 15 at 16:01
  • 4
    @Damon, in every state I've looked at, the money is hers. You may have been obliged to turn it over to the state's "unclaimed property" office after a period of time, but there are no grounds under which you can keep the money. – Mark Jan 15 at 22:02
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    @DonQuiKong, in the US, this situation isn't considered a debt, it's considered unclaimed property or similar. There's no time limit on this -- theoretically, her great-grandchildren could find those unclaimed pay slips and redeem them (if everyone's following the rules, the company will have turned the money over to the state, and her heirs won't need to track down the successor to a company that went out of business a century ago). – Mark Jan 15 at 22:07

protected by JoeTaxpayer Jan 19 at 18:36

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