Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has signed into law important changes to employers’ obligations to notify North Carolina employees about their wages. The changes to the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (available here, beginning at the bottom of page 3) are effective now.
Payment to separated employees. Previously, the law required an employer to pay a terminated employee all wages due by the next regular payday after the separation, either “through the regular pay channels or by mail if requested by the employee.” Under the amended version, mailing the final paycheck is permissible only if (1) the employee makes a written request for payment by mail and (2) the employer uses “trackable” mail to send the final paycheck. Presumably certified mail or USPS Priority Mail Express would comply. Because the statute uses the word “mail,” we would not recommend using private carriers, even though they are sometimes more prompt and reliable than the U.S. Postal Service.
Notification, posting, and records. The law requires that employers provide notice upon hire to employees of the promised wages, and the day and place for payment. Under the prior version of the law, oral notice was sufficient. The amended version of the law no longer authorizes oral notice – the notice must be in writing.
If an employer was to make a “negative” change in wages (for example, a reduction in pay, but also, arguably, a more demanding standard for receipt of the same bonus or piece rate premium), the law required that 24 hours’ notice of the change be given to employees. The notice had to be in writing, but it could be provided via a posting “maintained in a place accessible to [. . .] employees.” As amended, the notice must be provided at least one pay period in advance, and a posting will no longer suffice. The notice will have to be provided to the affected employees individually.
To recap, the amended statute requires employers to do the following:
Issue the final paychecks of separated employees using “regular pay channels” unless the employee makes a written request to have the check mailed and the employer uses a “trackable” method of mailing the check.
Provide notice to new employees of the promised wages, and day and place of payment, in writing.
Provide notice to employees of a negative change in pay at least one full pay period in advance and in a writing that is given to each affected employee. Posting a notice will no longer suffice.
If you have any questions about these changes to the North Carolina wage payment provisions, please feel free to contact any attorney in our Asheville, Raleigh, or Winston-Salem offices.
For a printer-friendly copy, click here.