How Long Does an Employer Have to Correct a Paycheck Error?


Wondering about underpayment penalties in Arizona or what to do about missing hours on your paycheck? Everyone loves payday, but discovering that you have missing hours on your check can be a serious disappointment. In some cases, it might even set you back on your bills.

Sometimes, this type of issue is quick and easy to resolve. At other times, you may have to file a complaint or seek legal counsel. We’ll help you understand what your situation calls for.

How to Resolve Paycheck Errors

If you notice that your employer underpaid you or there’s some other error on your check, the best thing to do is consult a payroll professional at your work. They’re likelier to have the answers you need than the manager. In most cases, the error will be a miscalculation of hours or an input error on the part of the person in charge of payroll. 

If it’s a simple issue like this, the problem should quickly solvable (within one pay period). More complicated errors may require a longer time to resolve.

Handling Consistent Paycheck Issues

If your employer has always paid you fairly and on time in the past and this is the first time they’ve made a mistake, it’s probably best to handle the issue internally. Although they’re legally required to pay you on time, seeking legal retribution may just draw out the process even longer. 

However, if your employer withholds your wages on purpose or issues erroneous checks regularly, taking action might be best. Consulting an attorney will help you assess your options. Knowing the ins and outs of employment law, they can advise you about your specific circumstance. They may help you draft a formal letter to demand your unpaid wages.

If Your Employer Won’t Pay

It’s possible that your employer made a mistake on your paycheck and refuses to make it right in accordance with your letter. In this case, you have the option to file a wage complaint with the ICA in Arizona. To file a complaint this way, the claim should be less than $5,000 and the wages must have been accruing for a year or less. Alternatively, you can file a lawsuit in an attempt to recover your unpaid wages.

How to Handle Unpaid Overtime

One of the commonest wage violations is failure to pay the correct amount for overtime hours. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay employees overtime pay if they work over 40 hours during the workweek. Arizona doesn’t have its own laws regarding overtime, but the federal FLSA law still applies.

If you’re missing overtime hours on your check, your employer owes you the missing funds. If you worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, you should get time and a half. This will be your normal hourly wage plus an extra 50 percent of the rate for the overtime hours. If, for example, you make $16 an hour, your employer must pay you $24 for your overtime hours.

Unpaid Time Off or Breaks

Arizona law doesn’t require employers to give their employees rest or meal breaks. If your employer has you clock out for breaks that last 20 minutes or less, however, they might owe you wages for the time. If you’ve had to work during a period of time that your employer referred to as a break, you’re also entitled to receive pay for that time.

Add up the breaks under 20 minutes that your employer didn’t pay you for, in addition to the breaks you worked through. To calculate the amount your employer owes you, multiple this amount by your hourly wage. If the time adds up to more than 40 hours for the workweek, you’re entitled to overtime pay (time and a half).

Penalties for Underpayment

If you’re dealing with a payroll error like underpayment, you may be able to collect penalties if you win a lawsuit or administrative claim. There are federal and state laws in place to protect employees in these circumstances.

State law: In Arizona, employees have the right to the wages they didn’t receive plus a penalty of twice the amount of the unpaid wages. This could end up equaling three times the original unpaid amount. You may also receive $150 (or more) per day if your employer retaliates when you try to recover the unpaid wages. A legal professional can help you determine what this means and how to handle it.

Federal law: Under federal law, you have the right to liquidated damages if your employer underpaid you or didn’t honor the federal overtime laws. In some cases, you may end up receiving more than time and a half for late overtime payment.

In Arizona, you may only have a year from the date you should’ve received your wages to file an administrative complaint, so don’t delay. Depending on the circumstances, you might have up to two or three years if you’re addressing the issue on a federal level. 

Need Legal Assistance for Underpayment in Arizona?

It can be hard to know exactly how long you have to file a wage complaint without consulting a legal professional on the matter. A lawyer can help you figure out the time limits that apply to your specific situation according to Arizona law.

The law regarding payroll mistakes can be a little complicated, and filing a complaint on your own can be intimidating, especially if it’s a complex or large case. Speaking with an experienced attorney can help, or you can request that they file the claim for you. If you win the lawsuit, your employer may even have to pay your attorney’s fees.

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

Contact Our Employment Law Team

Call (480) 464-1111 or fill out the form to schedule your consultation and discuss your best legal options.