Though uncommon, it is possible for an employer to write a bad check. This unfortunate situation is more common for a small company that writes standard business checks to workers instead of official payroll checks. If you find yourself in this awkward situation, know the steps to take to resolve the matter.
It's important to keep close track of your hours and days worked, especially if you work for a small employer that does not track your hours electronically. Before you contact the employer about the bounced check, you should have some type of proof to show you're entitled to the amount in case questions arise. Wait for the bounced check to come back to you in the mail so that you can have that as proof as well.
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Ask for a New Check
The first, most logical action to take if an employer gives you a bad check is to call or visit the owner or payroll department and inform a representative of the issue. It is possible that the employer simply doesn't know that the check was sent back. Explain the issue and give the amount of the check so that the employer can reissue payment. Provide your proof, including the bounced check (keep a copy for yourself as well). Ask the employer to add any returned check fees incurred due to the error. Get a set date and time when a new check will be ready for pickup.
The situation can become a bit tricky if for some reason the employer does not issue a new check as promised and the employee still works with the company. Laws require employers to pay employees for their work as agreed, as is the case with any contractual agreement. In some states, the employer has to pay a penalty for each day the worker isn't paid as agreed. The worker can file a complaint with the state labor board regarding unpaid wages to resolve the situation. In a worst-case scenario, the worker must consult a lawyer and have him send a letter on his behalf to ask for payment. In a last-case scenario, he could file a small claims case against the employer to retrieve the funds.
You can avoid issues with bad checks from an employer by signing up for direct deposit (if offered by the company). With direct deposit, the company wires the money to your bank account electronically. In some cases, the money arrives earlier than payday. Just ask the company's payroll department for a direct deposit enrollment form. You must provide checking account and routing numbers, as well as a Social Security number to apply.