WWYD: The Paycheck Debacle

In this installment of “What Would You Do?,” a mixup at work involving paychecks.

We normally get paid every other Wednesday, and last week was a pay week. I checked my bank account on Thursday and saw I hadn’t been paid, so I started asking around at work to see if other people had been paid. Some had, some hadn’t, and one guy had been paid for one week but not two. We’ve had a lot of changes at work recently, with everybody officially working for the same company on Jan. 1, and they bungled the first paycheck of the year for a bunch of people, but not me, so I’m not sure how they resolved that.

This time, they figured out the problem on Friday (we send our timesheets to a branch in another state, and the person there apparently didn’t scroll down to see all the timesheets attached, nor did she think it was weird that they had timesheets for only a small fraction of the people at the company, but whatever). They then told us that people who weren’t paid on the 23rd would receive that payment in their Feb. 6 check. Should I raise a stink about this? Now, I’m not currently living paycheck-to-paycheck, but they don’t necessarily know that, nor do I know about anyone else’s situation. But even if all of us can stand to wait another couple of weeks, isn’t this kind of a weird way to do things? — K.

My question is: What would your company do if an employee said she needed the money from her Jan. 23 paycheck to pay her Feb. 1 rent? You’re right—they don’t know the situation you or your fellow coworkers are in, and your company shouldn’t have to put anyone in a position to have to explain. Hopefully this is a one-time mixup and it’s all sorted out and everyone is paid regularly and on time for now on.

Once upon a time, I got hired as a full-time contractor for a company, and they left out one very important bit of information about how I would get paid, which was: It’d take at least 90 days to process invoices after I filed them. This meant that even though I was working full-time for the company, I wouldn’t see a dollar for at least three months, and that I’d have to rely on whatever savings I had to get me by until then. Sure, I had that money in savings to help me do that, but what if I didn’t?

I didn’t say anything during the first few months. I guess this is just how it is, I thought. As a contractor, I wasn’t officially part of the company, but I showed up every day and made friends with everyone I worked with. The first time I whispered about the long, strange wait to get paid to a friend in the finance department, she said, “Yeah, sorry about that. The company considers you a ‘vendor’ rather than an employee, and it takes longer to get checks processed for vendors.”

My paychecks seemed to appear in my mailbox out of the blue. During one strange, hazy and long period of not getting paid, I mentioned to another friend I made—the company’s project manager—that boy was it hard not knowing when the next paycheck would turn up.

“Wait, that’s how we pay you?” she asked. “This is unacceptable.”

And, well, to make a complicated story sound less complicated, this project manager eventually made changes in the company so that all contractors would wait a maximum of 14 days to get paid after filing an invoice rather than the crazy 90-day waiting period.

It’s okay to make a stink about things like this if the stink is justified. I recall the project manager’s main argument was: “If you were in Mike Dang’s shoes, would you be okay with waiting months to get paid?” She basically gave them a WWYD to consider, and their answer was, “We’d make a stink about it too!”

 

Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments.

 

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