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Workplace covenant: diligent work merits prompt and accurate pay

Many of our readers have likely seen a reference at some time to a worker claiming to be so happy at the workplace that he or she would willingly forgo pay to continue being employed.

And most of those readers, we suspect, took that declaration at less than face value.

For most people, working is a flat-out necessity that provides for life's essentials. There is a fundamental flip side to work, and that is being paid for the time and labor expended on behalf of an employer. Even people who truly love their jobs reasonably expect to be fairly compensated for their efforts.

In fact, virtually all workers in California and nationally who are shortchanged in pay by their employer in any manner harbor great concern and will quickly take steps to put things right.

As noted in an online article discussing employers' payment obligations, "strict federal laws regulate the payroll process" and require employers "to protect workers from abuse or exploitation."

Notably, and as further mentioned in that article, many states provide for additional protections that augment federal safeguards. California is certainly among those states.

A central (and certainly understandable) onus that is placed upon employers is their duty -- as noted in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act -- to pay their workers "promptly," both for the work they performed during regular hours and additional labor that qualifies for overtime pay.

Another requirement: to not act tardily in paying a former employee any wages that are owed.

Bad-faith employers can run afoul of pay-related federal and state protections in myriad ways. An employer might try to avoid paying a state's minimum wage to a worker who receives tips as compensation. In California, such workers are entitled to receive the full minimum wage before tips are factored into compensation. Some employers delay or openly resist paying back pay that is owed an employee. In some instances, attempts are made to summarily alter a worker's pay retroactively.

Timely and properly calculated pay is extremely important to workers. Indeed, an employer's actions that unlawfully deprive a worker of any contracted-for pay jeopardize a lifeline that is incalculably important to employees and their families.

As noted, strong legal protections exist for workers suffering from pay problems attributable to employers' wrongdoing. A proven California employment law attorney can provide further information.