Employees Must Be Paid for Work Done…No Matter What

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I was on my friend, Matt McNeil’s radio show earlier this year. Matt now hosts a daily talk show on AM950 but until June or so, hosted a show on Saturday and Sunday afternoons on KSTP 1500 AM. He is nice enough to invite guests like me to his show to ask us questions about our work and ourselves and to give us a forum to talk. This was the third time that I have been a guest on Matt’s show.

Each time, we have been brave enough to open the lines to callers, and this past Sunday, we got many calls with very interesting questions. One caller in particular caught my attention. This man was an employee at a local company. At the beginning of the year, his employer told him that he wouldn’t be able to pay him for the first two weeks of the year (even though he had worked) because the company just didn’t have the money to pay his wages. So the caller’s question was whether this was legal. No, it isn’t!

Employees have a right to be paid for the work they perform. It doesn’t matter whether the company is low on money, has no money or needs to pay off other debts. Employees must be paid and must be paid on a regular basis (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) at least once every 31 days according to Minnesota law. These are obligations that can’t be altered.

A similar Minnesota law states that terminated employees must be paid immediately at the time of discharge. If the wages aren’t paid and the employee makes a demand for them, the employer then has 24 hours to pay the unpaid wages or risks a penalty equivalent of a day’s wages, up to 15 days.


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