"Wage Theft Vs. Time Theft: A Comparison You Need To Know "
  • Posted By Sirmabekian
  • 2022

Wage theft vs time theft – what exactly is the difference? Whether you are an employer or an employee, a thorough understanding of these 2 terms can help you clarify issues surrounding work and compensation. 

What is Wage Theft?

Simply put, wage theft is the failure to pay workers their full wages for the hours that they have worked. Unfortunately, workers are very often not paid all that they have earned. Vulnerable employees, such as low-paid and immigrant workers, are unfortunately more prone to having their salary rights infringed upon.

Wage theft can come in many forms. It can include workers being paid below minimum wage even though they should be covered by law, being asked to work additional hours without pay, or even something like being asked to remain on the premises to do a work-related task even if you have already clocked out. It can also include explicit behavior, such as workers not being paid at all, illegal deductions from paychecks or the misclassification of workers by employees. For instance, workers may be listed as independent contractors when they actually should be classified as W-2 employees. 

Know your rights as a California worker, and learn how to protect yourself from wage theft

What is Time Theft? 

On the other hand, time theft occurs when an employee is paid for work they did not do. This could occur when an employee asks a coworker to punch in for them before they show up for work. It could also occur when an employee is doing non-work-related tasks – such as surfing the internet – when they should be working.

What Should I Do About Time Theft? 

Small business owners often ask what they should do when they find their employees taking excessive breaks, or spending time on their phones when they have work to do. We encourage them to focus on creating a positive work environment, one in which workers feel that they and their labor are valued, where work policies are communicated clearly, and where these policies are fair and reasonable.

What Should I Do About Wage Theft? 

If you, as a worker, feel like you are a victim of wage theft, you need to obtain documentation of your situation. This includes records of the hours you worked, how much you were paid, how much you should have been paid, and who exactly has paid you. 

Some workers choose to confront their employers directly, but that is not always feasible. You may instead reach out to your state’s wage theft office, but this is not always feasible either, as the Department of Labor does not pursue all cases that have been filed, and tend only to go after claims that they think they can win. In such a case, you may then choose to contact a reputable attorney. Many workers may choose not to pursue their claims as they feel as the time, effort and money they spend on doing so may not be worth it. However, if you are a worker who feels that your employer is committing wage theft against you, it is highly possible that they are doing the same with your coworkers. In such a case, class action is often a more viable route to take to pursue your claims, together.

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