You work hard for your paycheck, and every dollar counts. So it’s distressing when your paycheck doesn’t match your expectations. It’s even more worrisome when you’re sure that worked overtime and some of your work should have been paid at time-and-a-half your regular rate of pay.
Unfortunately, you may be the victim of wage theft. Some employers will do just about anything they can to avoid paying overtime – and not all of their tactics are legal. “Check splitting” is one of those illegal methods of avoiding overtime that often flies under an employee’s radar.
What’s check splitting?
In essence, check splitting is simply moving recorded work hours from one period of time to another period in order to make it look like no overtime was worked. If that sounds sneaky and underhanded, that’s because it is.
For example, federal law requires an employer to pay overtime (with a few exceptions) once an employee has worked more than 40 hours in a single week. Imagine that you work for a restaurant and you end up putting in 10 hours a day, five days in a row. That means you would be owed your normal rate of pay for 40 hours and time-and-a-half for an additional 10 hours.
Your employer, however, decides to mark down the first 40 hours of the week as normal but records the last 10 hours on next week’s schedule. As a “reward,” your employer schedules you for only three days of work the following week. It sounds like they are being nice, but what you may not realize is that the restaurant isn’t going to pay you for the 10 hours of overtime that you already worked.
Unfortunately, many employees don’t notice what has happened in cases of check splitting. And some employees will simply go along with their employer’s vague explanation that “this is just how we do it.” Other employees may be aware of this kind of wage theft but are too afraid of being fired to complain. The important thing is that you and your co-workers understand that check splitting is almost always illegal.
If you suspect that you and other workers have been cheated out of overtime pay and fair wages, find out more about your legal options. You can fight back.