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Come payday, the only thing anyone is really looking forward to is a nice boost to their dwindling bank account. This is why, when your boss forgets to pay you, your initial reaction is probably somewhere close to pure ire.
Calm down. If your boss forgot to pay you (or just doesn't have the money), you are not without legal recourse. There are laws in every state that protect employees who are sadly disappointed come payday. Consider the following examples.
California. Employees must be paid at least twice a month -- no later than the 26th for wages earned between the 1st and 15th, and no later than the 10th of the following month for wages earned between the 16th and the end of the month. If an employer has a more frequent payroll period, employees must be paid within seven calendar days of its end.
Michigan. State law allows employers to pay individuals twice per month, every two weeks or every week. If paid twice per month, wages earned in the first 15 days of the month must be paid by the first day of the following month. Wages earned from the 16th to the last day of the month must be paid by the 15th of the following month. Individuals paid once per week or every two weeks must be paid within 14 days of the end of the designated pay period.
New Jersey. All non-executive or managerial employees must be paid at least twice in a calendar month and on designated paydays. Payment must be made within 10 business days of the end of each pay period.
So, how should you use payday laws? If your boss forgot to pay you, ask him about it -- in writing. If he doesn't immediately pay you, hunt down your state's specific law, which is likely in the Labor Code. It'll look similar to those in California, Michigan and New Jersey. If you decide he's broken the law, you can either deal with it on your own, with a lawyer, or file a state wage claim.