Your employer may owe you money. Here’s how to check and claim unpaid wages

Do you think one of your bosses didn’t pay you what he owed you? Whether it’s for unpaid overtime, or you’ve been paid less than minimum wage, or you’ve worked hours that you weren’t paid, the federal government may have money you can claim. It’s easy to find out through the Department of Labor.

The Labor Department recovered more than $230 million in back wages in 2021 from employers who owed workers wages — an average of $1,211 for every worker owed. If the department’s Wage and Hours Division finds that an employer has not paid employees fairly, it can make the company pay what it owes and then direct the money to the workers who were cheated.

However, if the agency can’t find you to give you the wages you owe (for example, you’ve moved or changed your name), they’ll hold the money for three years so you have time to claim it. Read on to learn how to find out if you have unpaid wages to recover and how to claim them. To learn more, learn how to check if your state owes you money and how to get it.

Why is the Department of Labor withholding my late pay?

If the Department of Labor’s Division of Wages and Hours finds that an employer has violated minimum wage and overtime laws covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, it will attempt to recover those unpaid wages by having the employer pay the full amount. that you owe.

If the agency is unable to contact you, it retains your back pay for three years. After that, it is mandatory by law to send the money to the US Treasury. You will not be able to claim the payment back after this period.

How to see if you have back pay to claim from the federal government

There is a quick and easy process to find out if there are any unpaid wages that you are entitled to claim.

1. Go to the DOL worker salary search tool.

two. At the Search employer by name field, enter the name of the company that may owe you back wages and tap the WOW search button.

3. If the search tool finds a match, it will display the company name in the results field. Select the company and tap Next.

4. In the next window, enter your initial and last name and tap Submit. If the tool finds that the division is withholding unclaimed wages, it will direct you to a DOL office that can verify your information and send you a check for the late payment.

How to claim unpaid wages from an employer to get the money owed to you

If you think your employer has withheld wages that do not appear in the Workers Due Wage tool above, you can file a claim with the DOL. You will need to provide information such as pay, hours worked, and pay receipts for the DOL to determine whether to initiate an investigation. You can also contact your state’s employment agency to file a claim.

money with magnifying glass

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

What is the federal minimum wage and what are the overtime rules?

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. A state or city may have a higher minimum wage, and in a situation where an employee is covered by federal and state wage laws, the employee may qualify for the higher minimum wage. Check with your state employment agency for more information.

Employees covered by federal overtime regulations must receive 1.5 times the normal pay amount after working 40 hours in a work week. Please note that federal regulations do not require overtime pay for weekends or holidays unless work on those days exceeds 40 hours in a work week. Note that state laws may define overtime differently. California, for example, requires overtime pay after an 8-hour workday.

For more ways to track the money the government owes you, here’s how to check your status. income tax refund and how to know if your state owes you any new kids tax credit money.

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