My Employer Hasn’t Paid Me: What Should I Do? Your Options

What Happens if my employer doesn't pay

When working for an employer there are best practices your employer should follow to ensure they are keeping to the terms of your employment contract, along with important legislation they need to follow. This is particularly important when regarding employees’ wages to avoid unpaid wages.

As experts in law in South Wales, we often get asked by local Cardiff residents what they should do if their employer hasn’t paid them correctly and in some cases, at all.

Find out below how you can find support and what you should do.

Informally talk to line managers, and check to see if you have given your employers authority to withhold pay. If not, write to them with as much supporting evidence as you have. If they do not cooperate or respond you might consider making an employment tribunal claim or seeking legal advice.

To understand a little more easily what options you have if your employer hasn’t paid you, and find out first if your employer can refuse to pay you.

Can an employer refuse to pay me?

If you are an employer in Cardiff and surrounding areas or indeed anywhere else in Wales or the UK., it’s worth understanding there are a few exceptions where it’s legal for you to receive payments.

There are only certain situations when an employer does not have to pay your wages. These are:

  • If an employer is on strike
  • Will only work to rule (usually industrial action before a strike occurs)
  • Where an employer only provides part service
  • Where it’s written into the employment contract that there is a contractual right to do so

What does the law say about employers who haven’t paid me and there are unpaid wages?

If your employer fails to pay you for work done, it’s classed as an unauthorised deduction from wages.

If you and your employer aren’t able to resolve the situation then you are entitled to claim via an employment tribunal.

Employers who fail to pay you on time and for any work carried out is a breach of your employment contract.

It’s worth understanding that not all terms of a contract are written down, and a breach of contract happens if your employer breaks the terms. An employment contract is a legally binding agreement.

“If your employer fails to pay you for work done it’s classed as an unauthorised deduction from wages.”

  • Check to see if you have given your employer authority: It is a breach of contract if your employer deducts money from your wages if it’s not been previously agreed in writing. Check through any communication, employment contract and other documentation thoroughly to check for any agreement you may have given for unpaid wages.
  • Write to your employer: Providing the money is due to you, write to the employer and state the money that is due, alongside any time requirements. Make sure you include as much supporting evidence as you have including your contract and any relevant policies such as overtime for example and timesheets.
  • If you do not receive a response: It’s crucial to understand that if you do intend to make a claim to a tribunal for unpaid wages, there is a strict time limit of three months, less one day. If you have not received a response from a letter to your employers in around 7 days then it’s time to consider making a claim.

“It is a breach of contract if your employer deducts money from your wages if it’s not been previously agreed in writing.”

The next step

If your employer fails to pay wages without your agreement to deduct money, it’s known as a breach of contract, specifically an employment contract.

If you don’t receive an answer from letters, if they fail to co-operate or if you can’t reach an agreement, the next step before bringing any tribunal claim, is to complete an Acas Early Conciliation Notification Form.

ACAS is an employment service which gives confidential and also free advice to employees and employers on their rights. They also lay out policies, and best practices and help to solve workplace disagreements.

Their helpline has a free translation service for over 100 languages. All their services are free of charge.

Once you have agreed they can act on your behalf they will get in touch with your employer and explain that due wages need to be paid to you.

It’s worth understanding that because of the very strict deadlines in place make sure you start the procedure as quickly as possible.

Do not delay

It’s crucial to follow the correct procedures when it comes to unpaid wages. If not, it could cause a delay to the claim which may result in you being unable to continue. So make sure you act swiftly and allow enough time to complete your application.

In the case of unpaid wages, it is often that contact from a third party is all that is required to persuade your employer that they need to pay you straight away.

“Once you have agreed they can act on your behalf they will get in touch with your employer”

Employment tribunal claim

An employment tribunal claim is an option if you have tried other resolution methods which have not come to fruition.

It’s worth knowing that you do not have to explore other channels of getting any money owed to you, but these ways may bring a swift conclusion.

However, it’s also important to realise if you do not try other methods before making an employment tribunal claim, it might affect the amount of compensation you are awarded.

Here are some other things you can do if your employer hasn’t paid you.

  • Let your line manager know informally if you haven’t been paid
  • Talk to your HR department
  • Raise a formal grievance

Is there anything you can do if your employer doesn’t pay you?

Government employment payment complaints procedure

The government offers an online document where you can make a complaint about various aspects of not being paid. This form covers a broad spectrum of employment payment issues from non-payment of the minimum wage, to problems getting paid if you are an agency worker.

The form will help your complaint be directed to the right place regarding your specific problem.

You can fill in this online form if you are having difficulties with:

  • National minimum wage
  • If you are working more than 48 hours a week and having payment or other problems
  • Issues surrounding working for an employment agency
  • Complaints about wages when working either in agriculture or farming

You can either make a complaint for yourself or on behalf of someone else.

What about if my employer hasn’t paid me after leaving a job?

If you have left a job, there is still a time limit imposed on getting back the money you are owed. The three months and one-day time limit often start from the date of any final payment. However, it’s worth checking with your employer as the date may be earlier.

If you live in Cardiff, Wales or anywhere else in the UK, and you think that your employer has not paid you the correct amount of money after you leave the workplace there are steps you can take.

Even if you have been dismissed, your employer needs to pay you what is owed. This could come from payments such as:

  • Redundancy pay owed (this deadline is longer if you don’t feel you’ve been paid what is owing to you. There is a six-month deadline from the last day you were employed for redundancy pay disputes
  • Sick pay including maternity, paternity, shared parental leave or adoption pay
  • Holiday pay 

All the money owed should be paid in your wages on your usual payment date. If you owe your employers any money it might be deducted from this pay.

Your employer must pay you everything you’re owed in your last pay packet, even if you’ve been dismissed. If you owe them money they might be able to take it from your pay.

And finally…

Here at Robertsons Solicitors we fully understand that workplace issues can dramatically affect not only individuals but also their families.

Our cost-effective advice for anyone in Cardiff and surrounding areas in Wales will make sure you stay fully informed every step of the way while we provide support at a challenging time.

Get in touch here for a confidential discussion to find out how we can help you with wage problems or any other aspect of employment law.


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