It's devastating when you find out an employer has not been completely fair with you when it comes to your hard earned money. In today's economy, every cent counts. Everyone trusts their employer to some degree and most would hope that they would be honest when it comes to money, but some are not. Many mistakes are unintentional, but in some cases, steps need to be taken to prevent yourself from being taken advantage of.
Go over each pay stub. Verify the number of hours worked, the list of benefits and any notes or comments. Even computers make mistakes. They are only as good as the people putting in the information. Verify any changes in pay, insurance premiums, bonuses and so forth. If it's their mistake, they should have the situation corrected by the end of the next pay period. If they don't, press the issue. You can bet if you owed them money, they would be all over you until you got them paid back.
Get any payment agreements in writing. If you're an independent contractor, you will want to have some kind of contract. Don't let things slide by saying it's a verbal agreement. Don't fall for it, when push comes to shove, it's your word against theirs. When you get paid, always give them a receipt. This will help you when it comes to tax time and also gives you a paper trail, if you need it.
Be suspicious if someone says they want to pay you under the table. Most people who suggest this also will try and get out of a written agreement. If you agree to work this way, be prepared for the day when they only give you part of what they owe you. You won't be able to turn them in anywhere and you more than likely won't be able to take them to small claims court.
Keep your own set of records. If you work in a factory, or business setting, you probably won't need to do this. If you work in sales or any type of retail position, to keep some kind of record. Totals of your sales for the day, the week and the month are a way of guaranteeing that you will get what is due to you. Make sure your records are accurate. Keep track of all your expenses. Make files to keep your receipts. You will need them for taxes and for any expenses you may need to be reimbursed for.
Know that if you realize that over a lengthy period of time you have been denied your full pay and your employer refuses to look into the matter, you may have to contact an attorney. In some cases, you may be able to handle the issue in small claims court and an attorney won't be needed. In more serious instances where there are thousands of dollars involved, you may have to take civil action to get your money.
Check on any investment programs or 401(k)s to make sure that money is added according to the agreement with your employer. If not, find out why. This is where most embezzlement and fraud occurs, because these accounts are usually set aside and not looked at on a daily basis. Keep your eye on them. Check all balances at least once a month.
Never accuse anyone of anything. It just causes resentment. If you hire an attorney, let them do the talking.
Investigate things thoroughly. Point out any discrepancies immediately.
Wendy Melton is a natural health consultant. She is also a personal trainer, certified herbalist and massage therapist. Melton has been a professional freelance writer since 2007 with contributions to various online publications. She is a graduate of Clayton College with a master's degree in natural health.