This article originally published on looks at the wage laws that employers must comply with to try to help people who may otherwise commit benefit fraud, and what the employee can do if she does not receive proper wages.

To ensure fair wages for job seekers and wage earners, the government administers employment laws that employers must comply with. An employee is entitled to receive her wages earned in an accurate and timely manner. If the employer fails to pay her accordingly, it is in violation of the respective law.

Law on Payment of Wages

The UK Department of Labour administers the minimum wage and overtime laws, which the Fair Labour Standards Act governs. Under the act, employers are required to pay nonexempt employees at least the federal minimum wage of 7 GBP per hour, as of July 24, 2009. The act also requires overtime payment for work hours exceeding 40 hours for the workweek at one and one-half the employee’s regular pay rate. Most hourly employees are nonexempt.

Still, an hourly employee can be salaried and nonexempt, if she does not meet the wage and/or job duties test for salary-exempt status. If an employer refuses to comply with wage laws, it is in violation of the Act.

Law on Payment of Wages

The UK labour department administers the state wage laws, which often provide additional benefits. The employer is required to pay the employee at the higher rate when both federal and state wage law apply. Federal law does not require an employer to give benefit days, such as holiday, and sick and vacation days. But if an employer chooses to give these benefits, they are considered wages. Wages also include prevailing wages, bonuses and commissions.

The state may set laws as to when an employee should receive payment of wages, such as biweekly or semimonthly. It may also have final paycheck laws, which mandate the deadline in which a separated employee should receive final wages. An employer is in violation of state law if it refuses to pay wages as the respective law mandates.

Wage Collection if an Employer Refuses to Pay Wages

If an employee does not receive the appropriate wages, she should try speaking with her employer to resolve the issue. If the employer still does not pay her, she should file a wage claim with her local U.K Department of Labour, Wage and Hour Division or state labour department.

She can pursue a lawsuit in small claims court to recover unpaid wages if she would rather not file a wage claim, or if the claim does not cover the wages she seeks, such as holiday pay or bonus. Small claims court has a limit on the amount of wages she can sue for; she can hire an employment lawyer, if necessary. The judge can order the employer to pay back wages, liquidated damages and attorney or court fees.

Tip for if an Employer Refuses to Pay Wages

The difference between what the employer has already paid the employee and what she is due is called back pay. The statute of limitations for collecting back pay is two years, and three years if the employer willfully broke the law.

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