Have you ever not received overtime pay, received pay that was less than minimum wage, or worked unpaid hours? If so, you can easily find out if the federal government has money available for you.
Employers who owed workers money were paid back by the Department of Labor more than $230 million in back pay in 2021, or an average of $1,211 for each employee who was due back pay. If the department’s Wage and Hour Division determines that an employer hasn’t treated workers fairly, it can order that business to make good on its debts and then give the money to the victims of the fraud.
The agency will, however, hold onto the money until you claim it if it can’t locate you to give you the back wages (for instance, because you moved or changed your name). Continue reading to find out how to determine whether you have unpaid wages that you can claim and how to do so. Find out more about how to determine whether the state owes you money and how to collect it.
Why won’t the US government release my repaid wages?
The Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department tries to recover any unpaid wages by having the employer pay you the full amount it owes you if it determines that the employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime laws.
Your unpaid wages are withheld by the agency for three years if they were unable to reach you. The money must then be sent to the US Treasury as required by law. After that point, you won’t be able to request back pay.
How to determine if you have unclaimed back pay
Discovering whether you have a claim for any unpaid wages is a quick and simple process.
- Go to the Workers Owed Wages search page on the DOL website.
- Type the name of the business that might owe you back wages in the Search Employer by Name field and press the WOW Search button.
- The company name is displayed in the results field if the search tool finds a match. Tap Next after selecting the business.
- Type your first initial and last name in the following window, then click Submit. The tool will direct you to a DOL office so they can verify your information and send you a check for the back pay if it discovers the division is holding unclaimed wages.
How to get your money back from an employer who has not paid your wages
You can file a complaint with the DOL if you believe your employer has withheld wages that aren’t listed on the Workers Owed Wages tool above. The DOL will need to see proof of your pay, hours worked, and pay stubs before deciding whether to open an investigation. You can also make a complaint by contacting the labor department in your state.
If you believe your employer owes you money, you can file a complaint.
What are the current rules for overtime and the minimum wage?
The federal minimum hourly wage is $7.25. When an employee is protected by both federal and state wage laws, a state may have a higher minimum wage rate, and the employee may be entitled to the higher minimum wage. To learn more, contact the labor department in your state.
After working 40 hours in a workweek, employees who are subject to federal overtime laws should be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay. Note that unless working on those days exceeds 40 hours in a work week, federal regulations do not mandate overtime pay for weekends or holidays. Observe that different state laws may define overtime. For instance, California mandates overtime pay after an eight-hour workday.
You can check the status of your income tax refund and determine whether your state owes you any additional child tax credit money, among other ways to keep track of money the government owes you.