As an employee, it's essential to have accurate and transparent documentation of your earnings and deductions. A check stub, also known as a pay stub, provides a breakdown of your salary, taxes and other deductions.
While the majority of employers have to supply paystubs by law, there are situations where they might not. So, what should you do if your employer doesn't give you a check stub? This article will explain.
Reasons Your Employer Might Not Give You a Check Stub
Check stubs serve multiple purposes for both employers and employees. They provide valuable information that helps employees track their earnings and deductions, understand tax withholdings, and verify the accuracy of their pay.
Unfortunately, there are situations where employers may not provide check stubs. For example:
- The company has limited resources: In some small businesses, especially those with limited resources or outdated systems, employers may not have the means to generate or distribute check stubs. Instead, they may rely on simpler methods of recording employee pay and deductions, such as handwritten or typed statements. Thankfully, software such as our instant paystub generator is here to save the day, helping small businesses stay compliant with minimal costs involved.
- Unintentional oversight: In some cases, your employer may have simply overlooked providing check stubs. They may fail to realize their importance, or they might not be aware of the legal obligation to provide for them (where applicable).
- Paperless payroll systems: With the rise of digitization, many employers have transitioned to paperless payroll systems. In these cases, employees may receive their pay electronically through an online portal or by email, but not receive a physical check stub. Make sure to check your emails for any correspondence from your company just in case.
- Fraudulent activity: If a company is not accurately reporting their taxes to the IRS, they may avoid providing pay check stubs. They may also provide fake pay stubs (more about that later).
Do Employers Have to Provide Check Stubs?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to keep accurate payroll records for at least three years. However, it does not state that this information must be provided to employees. So, there is no federal law about the pay stubs.
However, the requirement to provide check stubs is regulated on at a state level. Therefore, your employer may or may not be obligated to supply them depending on where you live. Below is a breakdown of the requirements for each state, according to FMP Global.
States with no Requirements
In these states, employers don’t have to supply you with check stubs:
- South Dakota
In the following states, employees have to supply pay check stubs and they can choose whether that’s in electronic or printed form:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
As with access states, companies in these states must supply their employees with check stubs. However, there is an additional requirement that they be printed. If they are provided electronically, the employee must be able to request printed copies. These states are:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
Opt-In and Opt-Out States
In Delaware, Minnesota and Oregon, employees must be able to opt out if the company changes the means of delivering pay stubs. In other words, if the company decides to go paperless, they must be able to opt out and continue to receive printed pay stubs.
On the other hand, in opt-in states, employees must give consent before receiving paystubs electronically. At present, the only opt-in state is Hawaii.
What to Do Next
Whatever the reason your employer hasn’t given you a pay stub, you can take proactive steps to maintain your own accurate records.
Request a Pay Check Stub
Open dialogue can often resolve the issue, so discuss with your employer your need for a check stub, expressing your concerns and explaining the reasons you require one. Again, they may be unaware of the importance, or the legal obligations involved.
Keep Your Own Records
Until you manage to get a check stub from your employer, maintain your own record of earnings. Keep track of your hours worked, pay amounts, and any relevant deductions. This can be done using a spreadsheet or specialized personal finance software.
Direct Deposit Statements
If your employer uses direct deposit, check the statements from your bank or financial institution. You will then have proof of the deposits, including the amount and date. This can serve as a substitute for a check stub in some cases.
Consider Legal Action
If you live in an access or access/print state, you have the legal right to obtain documentation about your pay. If the lack of paystubs is preventing you from providing proof of income for any purpose such as renting property or applying for a mortgage, consider taking legal action. Companies are obligated to supply check stubs, so the law is on your side.
Make Sure Your Employer Doesn’t Give You a Fake Pay Stub
If a business is misreporting their revenue, they may provide employees with fake paystubs that contain inaccurate information. If you tried to use a fake check stub as proof of income – even without realizing that it’s fake – you could still face legal problems.
So, how do you recognize fake check stubs?
First, check for watermarks or security features. Many legitimate paystubs incorporate these elements to prevent counterfeiting. Fake paystubs may also be missing some information such as yours or the company’s details.
Also, verify that the information on the pay stubs align with other available records, such as tax forms, employment contracts, or bank statements. Discrepancies in dates, earnings, deductions, or other details may indicate a fake paystub.
Other indicators may be the presence of unusual characters such as ‘O’ instead of ‘0’, and the use of round numbers such as $2,000 (as the genuine pay amount is unlikely to be so precise).
In addition, examine the layout and formatting. Genuine check stubs often have a consistent layout based on professional paystub templates, as well as elements such as the company logo, clear and legible text, standardized fonts, and alignment. Discrepancies or irregularities in these aspects could be a red flag.
If you’re not sure whether your paystub is legitimate, seek advice from a professional that is able to identify more advanced counterfeiting.
Unless you live in one of the nine states with no paystub requirements, you’re entitled to obtain proof of income in this form. This helps you maintain accurate records of your earnings and deductions and provides proof of income.
While you may be able to get your employee to provide check stubs by simply asking, it’s not always that easy. If you encounter ongoing issues or suspect any illegal or unethical practices related to your pay, consider seeking advice from a labor attorney.
Not sure what a genuine pay stub should look like? Check our range of professional paystub templates here.