Mason-Draffen, a business reporter, writes a column about workplace issues.
On occasion the Help Wanted column focuses on a single issue. Today's topic is direct deposit.
DEAR CARRIE: My husband works for a security company that does not use direct deposit. The scheduled payday is Monday, but because the checks are mailed my husband doesn't usually receive his until Tuesday or Wednesday. The past couple of weeks he has received his check as late as Friday. When he asked about the delay he was told that the checks usually take three to five business days to arrive. Does any law require companies that don't use direct deposit to make sure employees receive their checks on or before the scheduled payday?
-- Check's in the MailDEAR CHECK'S: Payday is payday, even if the check is mailed, said employment attorney Richard Kass, a partner at Bond, Schoeneck & King in Manhattan.
"Employees are entitled to receive their pay on their regularly scheduled paydays," Kass said. "Therefore, an employer should not mail out checks on a payday, to be received a few days later. There is nothing wrong with employers delivering their paychecks by mail, as long as the employees receive their paychecks on or before the designated payday," Kass said.
Your question is a good one. It's important for employers, employees and others to be informed -- or reminded -- about how such a widespread payroll practice like direct deposit interacts with labor laws.
For example, under New York labor law payment by direct deposit requires the consent of both the employer and employee, Kass said.
So the process of both offering and signing up for direct deposit is voluntary.
"Employers cannot force employees to accept direct deposit, and employees cannot force employers to use it," he said.
But every law has its exceptions, and in this case it's for farmworkers as well as for exempt executives, administrators and professionals who earn more than $900 per week. "Employers can force those employees to be paid by direct deposit, even if they do not consent," Kass said.
DEAR CARRIE: My wife works as a clerk in a municipal office on Long Island. She is a regular part-time employee who normally works between 21 and 28 hours per week. She has asked her supervisor if her payroll check could be direct-deposited since this would be much easier and faster than making the trek to the bank to deposit the funds. Her supervisor told her that direct deposit is not available for part-time personnel. I find this hard to believe since not only is it much easier on the employee, but it's generally cheaper and more secure for the employer. My wife doesn't want to make waves by raising this issue again, but I would like to know if such a direct-deposit restriction is legal.
-- No Deposit
DEAR NO DEPOSIT: It is legal. As noted in the answer above, employees cannot force employers to offer direct deposit.
Your question and the one above underscore that direct deposit isn't a right but a service that employers can choose to provide -- or not.
Go to bit.ly/LIdirect for more on direct deposit and New York State law.