As a new business owner, or someone managing employees for the first time, it can be confusing to know what is required for employee pay. The Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) requires employers to follow specific guidelines when it comes to wages, overtime pay, recordkeeping. Other areas of payroll are not as tightly regulated and it can be a bit confusing to decipher between the two.
Pay Frequency and Lag Time
Depending on the state in which your business operates, you may have different requirements (or none at all) for pay frequency. Michigan has a minimum pay frequency that all employees must be paid on a semimonthly basis; however, monthly pay is ok if wages are paid by the 1st of the following month. Obviously, you can pay your employees on a more frequent basis than what is stated above but not any less.
It should also be noted that each state has provisions on the amount of time that can pass before you pay an employee for their work, i.e. lag time. In Michigan, you must pay out wages earned from the 1st through 15th by the first of the next month. The 16th through month-end by the 15th of the next month. If you’re following a weekly or biweekly pay schedule, then the lag time is 14 days after the end of the pay period.
If you are paying an employee who is no longer with the company, the timeline can vary. First, you will need to determine whether the employee left voluntarily or involuntarily. In the state of Michigan, if you have an employee leave involuntarily, you must pay them immediately or as soon as you determine the amount they are owed. If the leave was voluntary, however, you will pay them when the amount due is determined, typically when the next payroll is run.
Methods of Issuing Pay
Typical methods of payment are cash, check, pay card, or direct deposit. Since the FLSA doesn’t state specifics of the form of payment, it is up to the employer and the employer’s state of business to choose a method to pay employees. Depending on your business location, you will have varying guidelines. Michigan does not require employees to participate in direct deposit, but an employer may strongly encourage or incentivize it. Also in Michigan, you cannot implement added fees on employees for ‘withdrawing’ their pay once it has been deposited in their account. Lastly, the employee has the freedom to choose which financial institution their check will be deposited to. If you operate your business outside of Michigan, please make sure to look up the rules and regulations specific to your state.
If you have chosen to issue payment through a pay card and your business operates in Michigan, you are required to have the following:
- Employees are allowed to transfer or withdraw money no more than once a week per pay period without incurring a fee.
- If an employee requests a change in payment method, that request must be implemented within one pay period.
- Changes in fees or terms must be made available to employees at least 21 days prior.
- The employee must be able to check their balance without incurring fees either electronically or by phone.
- The pay card cannot be linked to any sort of credit line, loan, or cash advance.
- The written disclosure must be provided to employees for the following:
- Ways to obtain balance inquiries without fees
- The right to change payment method at any time
- The card is not a savings or checking account.
If an employee (or former employee) fails to pick up or cash their paycheck, you will need to transfer those funds to the appropriate state agency. Many states will require the employer to contact the employee for whom the wages belong so that they do not reach ‘abandoned’ status. Each state has a timeline of how long they are required to wait before submitting the wages as abandoned. In Michigan, unclaimed wages become abandoned after 1 year.
Wages Owed to Deceased Employees
As with everything else we have covered, each state has its own rules for paying out wages to deceased employees. These rules state the maximum amount to be paid out, to whom, and what conditions apply. Michigan law requires employers to pay out all due unpaid wages, including any fringe benefits, to the employee’s designee. If there is no written designee, the surviving spouse, children, or parents (in that order) receive the wages.
Pay Stub Information
Each state determines what information should be included on an employee’s pay stub. Michigan requires employers to show hours worked, gross earnings, pay periods, and itemized deductions. Any information provided beyond that is up to the employer to include. For example, some employers may opt to incorporate remaining paid time off balances, 401(k) employer match, health benefits paid on behalf of the employer, and so on. Each state is different in what they will require of the employer to include.
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