Ask A Litigator: What Do Employers Need To Know About Wage Statements?

Jackson Lewis P.C.

Just as current and former employees are entitled to inspect their personnel file, Labor Code Section 226(c) entitles current and former employees to request copies of wage statements. Often these requests occur when an employee has filed a claim or intends to file a claim. As such, the employers must have compliant wage statements to respond to these requests.

This is what litigators would like employers to know about wage statements.

The Basics

According to the California labor code, an itemized wage statement must have the following:

  • Gross wages earned
  • Total hours worked (not required for salaried exempt employees)
  • The number of piece-rate units earned and any applicable piece rate if the employee is paid on a piece-rate basis
  • All deductions (all deductions made on written orders of the employee may be aggregated and shown as one item)
  • Net wages earned
  • The inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid
  • The name of the employee and the last four digits of his or her social security number or an employee identification number other than a social security number
  • The full and correct name and address of the legal entity that is the employer
  • All applicable hourly rates in effect during the pay period and the corresponding number of hours worked at each hourly rate by the employee

The California Labor Commissioner’s office has provided a sample itemized wage statement for non-exempt employees and employees paid a piece rate.

When and How to Provide Wage Statements

Under the Labor Code, employees are entitled to an itemized wage statement semimonthly or every time they are paid wages, whether by check, direct deposit, or otherwise.

The California Labor Commissioner has stated that employers may provide electronic wage statements so long as each employee retains the right to elect to receive a written paper stub or record and that those who are provided with electronic wage statements retain the ability to easily access the information and convert the electronic statements to hard copies at no expense to the employee. Electronic wage statements must incorporate proper safeguards to ensure the confidentiality of employee’s confidential information.

Maintaining Employee Wage Statements

Employers must maintain pay records for at least three years pursuant to Labor Code sections 226 and 1174. However, litigators would prefer employers maintain records for at least four years because of the potential for claimants to bring claims that extend the full lookback period for wage and hour claims in California.

Maintaining compliant wage statements may not prevent employees from asserting a legal claim but doing so will assist an employer’s attorney with the defense of such claims.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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