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Does an employer owe you money? How to check and claim unpaid wages


Do you have unclaimed wages?

Sarah Tew / CNET

Does the federal government maintain the unpaid wages to which you are entitled? In 2020, the Department of Labor recovered $ 257 million in back wages. The money recovered came from employers who owed money to employees by, for example, paying below the minimum wage or by withholding overtime. Over the past five years, the Department of Labor’s wages and hours division has recovered the wages of more than 1.3 million workers.

If the Department of Labor finds out that an employer owes you back wages, the company will pay the difference. However, if the DOL can’t find you (for example, you’ve moved or changed your name), it will hold the wages you can claim.

We show you how to see if you have unpaid wages to recover and how to claim it. Meanwhile, here’s how to quickly tell if your state owes you money. If you have children, find your share of the Child discount of $ 3,600 and what two IRS portals will do.

Why would the US government have my overdue payment?

If the wages and hours division of the labor department finds that an employer has violated the minimum wage for labor and overtime laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it will try to get the unpaid wages back by the employer in full pay that he owes you.

If the DOL was unable to contact you, it will hold your back wages for three years. After that, it is required by law to send the money to the US Treasury. After that time you can no longer reclaim the wages.

How you can see if you can reclaim the wages

Fortunately, there is a quick and easy process to find out if there are any unpaid wages to which you are entitled.

1. Go to the DOL’s Workers Owed Wages search.

2. In the Search Employer By Name field, enter the company name that you may owe you in arrears and tap the WOW search button.

3. If the search finds a match, the company name will be displayed in the results field. Select the company and tap Next.

4. In the next window, enter your first and last name and tap Send. If the tool determines that the division is holding unclaimed wages, you will be referred to a DOL office who can verify your information and then send a check for back wages.

How to claim unpaid wages from an employer

If you believe your employer has withheld wages not listed in the Workers Owed Wages tool above, you can file a complaint with the DOL. You must provide information such as salary, hours worked, and pay slips for the DOL to determine whether to initiate an investigation. You can also contact your country’s employment office to file a complaint.

cash with magnifying glass

You can file a complaint if you think your employer owes you money.

Sarah Tew / CNET

What are the minimum wage and overtime rules?

The federal minimum wage is $ 7.25 an hour. A state may have a higher minimum wage and, in a situation where an employee is subject to both federal and state wage laws, the employee may qualify for the higher minimum wage. Contact your national employment office for more information.

Employees subject to federal overtime regulation should receive one and a half times their normal pay after working 40 hours in a work week. Note that federal regulations do not require overtime pay for weekends or holidays unless the work on those days exceeds 40 hours in a work week. Note that state laws can define overtime differently. For example, California requires overtime to be paid after an 8-hour workday.

For more ways to keep track of the money the government owes you, here’s how to check the status of your income tax refund, get thousands back on childcare expenses, and see how much you could expect to receive starting July with the monthly child payments from tax credits.

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