North Carolina Enhances Worker Protections
North Carolina workers recently received enhanced protections as the North Carolina legislature passed several amendments to the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act — N.C. Gen. Stat. 95-25.1, et seq. Governor Cooper signed the new law in early July 2021 and the changes have already gone into effect. This is good news for North Carolina workers and, maybe, politicians in the Tar Heel State are trying to rehabilitate their state’s reputation. North Carolina was recently named one of the worst states for wages and worker protections. See media report here. Here is a quick rundown on the new law.
Notices of Wage Changes and Rates at the Time of Hire
The new law makes two changes intended to protect workers from employer abuse with respect to wages. First, under the new law, if employers intend to reduce an employee’s pay rate, written notice must be given to the employee before the reduction takes place and the notice must be given at least one pay period in advance. Thus, if wages/salary are paid every two weeks, then notice must be given at least two weeks in advance. Under the old version of the statute, employers could reduce pay rates with as little as 24 hours notice. No change was made with respect to increases in wages/salary. No written notice or advance notice is required for increases.
In addition, the new law requires that employers provide written notice to any person newly hired or newly promoted that sets out the wages/salary that have been agreed to between the employer and the employee. The notice must also state the day on which wages/salary are paid and must also provide information on how employees are to be paid (and also where wages are paid, if employees are paid in person). Thus, if wages are paid via direct deposit or via a check placed in the US mail, then the notice must specify those facts. A copy of this notice must be retained by the employer in the employee’s file. This change in the law is meant to reduce employer abuse and make it easier for employees to sue when an employer breaches its agreement with respect to the amount of wages/salary agreed, the timing of payment and the method. Having an employer’s agreement in writing is important if an employee is forced to file a complaint or initiate litigation. Under the old law, employers were allowed to provide this information verbally.
Employers Must Issue Final Paycheck Via Trackable Methods
In another new protection related to payment, under the new law, when issuing a final paycheck, if requested by an employee in writing, employers must use a “trackable” method of delivery. As an example, a direct deposit qualifies as “trackable,” but putting the “check in the normal mail” does not. Thus, if a check is issued and mailed, a trackable method of service must be purchased like using an overnight courier or purchasing the U.S. Post Office’s letter tracking service. No change was made to WHEN final wages are due; they are still due on the next regular pay date.
Increased Penalties for Violation of North Carolina’s Worker Protection Laws
Finally, the new law increases the penalties that can be assessed against employers that violate North Carolina’s worker protection laws. For example, employers that violate record-keeping obligations can be fined from $250-$2000 per investigation and per violation.
Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today
For more information, call the Employee Rights attorneys at Herrmann Law. If you think that your employer has violated your rights as an employee, call us. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes. Use our Online Contact page or call us at (817) 479-9229. We are more than just a law firm for employees – we are an employees’ fiercest advocate, equipping employees with the legal representation needed to achieve the best result possible.