I own a small business in Florida. I hav 2 employees that no longer work for us who did not sign their time cards before walking off the job. One of these employees never even returned their hiring paperwork so I have no information for them. Do I pay the

2 employees walked off job. 1 employee damaged a piece of equipment prior to walking off the other has only worked for 2 days on a trail basis and has not returned his hiring packet for HR. Plus neither signed their time cards. Can I pay min wage for walking off without giving any notice? Also, since I have no paperwork on the newest employee how do I pay them without any documentation they even worked for me? I have tried contacting both however no return calls.

1 answer  |  asked Jul 4, 2016 05:51 AM [EST]  |  applies to Florida

Answers (1)

Phyllis Towzey
Regarding the first employee who damaged the equipment, unless you have a signed authorization from the employee to deduct money from his paycheck for damages to equipment, you should not do so. Further, even with a signed authorization, you cannot make a deduction from any paycheck that would then take that pay period below minimum wage.

I also do not recommend reducing his pay retroactively to minimum wage as punishment for walking off the job, unless you had a written policy in place that he was aware of that required employees to give a certain notice (for example two weeks notice) to resign, and stated that violations of that policy would result in their final paycheck being reduced to minimum wage.

I know you feel that this employee took advantage of you and your first reaction is to reduce him to minimum wage or subtract the cost of the damage or not pay him at all. However, the best approach is just to pay him the full wages through the day and time he walked off the job, and just let go of the frustration. You don't want to risk getting a demand (or worse, a lawsuit) from an attorney claiming you violated the wage and hour laws with respect to the final paycheck, as you will then have to incur your own legal fees to defend yourself, and potentially end up paying the employee's lawyer's fees as well. All of that will cost you significantly more than just paying employee the agreed upon wages.

I don't have enough information about the damaged equipment (was it a simply accident vs the employee being grossly negligent or intentionally misusing the equipment) to advise you further than what I stated above.

Regarding the second employee, if you have an address for him, notify him by mail that he is entitled to be paid for the 2 days he worked, but that he must provide the information needed for a paycheck to be issued (for example, his Social Security number). Since he only worked there for 2 days and never filled out the HR info and was not entered into payroll, in my opinion you could pay him by 1099. If you don't have an address for him, leave a message to that effect on his phone, and put a memo in the file that this was done. That way if he resurfaces later and claims you refused to pay him, you have documentation that protects you.

Sorry this advice is probably not what you wanted to hear, but based on my experience with many similar situations, it's the most practical and cost-effective way to handle these situations.

If you need more detailed advice, please contact my office and reference this Question on MEL.

posted by Phyllis Towzey  |  Jul 4, 2016 08:56 AM [EST]

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