Kansas Wage Payment Act
In our office, we believe that employees should earn an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work. In recent years, however, employers have become very innovative in finding ways of cutting corners and paying their employees as little as possible. Sometimes intentionally, and sometimes without knowing it, many of the methods they use are illegal.
In Kansas, employers are prohibited from refusing to pay their employees below minimum wage, as well as from withholding earned wages without your consent. The Kansas Wage Payment Act defines “employee” very broadly to include commissioned salespeople, and employers often misclassify employees as independent contractors, managers, or administrative workers. Although the law does not provide for attorney’s fees, it does provide a dollar-for-dollar liquidated damages penalty for all wages that are unpaid. Because the Fair Labor Standards Act only provides for minimum wage and overtime claims, the Kansas Wage Payment Act is a very effective penalty for collecting unpaid wages and salary, when there is no overtime, but the employee’s pay exceeds minimum wage.
The following workers are the most common victims of wage theft: waiters, waitresses and bar tenders; manufacturing workers, assembly line workers, mortgage brokers who work on commission, drivers of cars and couriers, and people who do work as independent contractors.
If you have been a victim of wage theft, do not hesitate to set up a consultation. Kansas City employment attorney Phillip Murphy is very experienced in handling wage and hour cases and obtaining very favorable results for his clients.
What is the Kansas Wage Payment Act?
The Kansas Wage Payment Act (KWPA) is a state law that governs how employers must pay their employees. The KWPA sets forth rules for when and how employers must pay their employees, and the amount of money they must pay. It applies to all employers in Kansas, regardless of the number of employees. And it also applies to all employees in Kansas, regardless of their job title or salary. So, even if you are exempt from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA, if your employer refuses to pay you wages that you have earned, they are liable. You could be a doctor, earning well into the 6-figure per year range, and if your employer refuses to pay you wages that you have earned, you are covered under the KWPA.
Employers may pay their employees by cash, check, or direct deposit but they may not require employees to pay for the cost of direct deposit.
Notably, the law requires employers to pay employees over 18 the minimum wage, which in Kansas, is $7.25 per hour. Employers must also pay their employees overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Overtime pay is equal to one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. “Non-standard” wages have different minimums. For example, the minimum wage for a tipped employee is $2.13 per hour, and the minimum wage for new hires under the age of 20 is $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days (under Kansas’s training wage law). Student workers and interns can be paid 85 percent of the minimum wage rate.
Employers must provide their employees with a written statement of earnings at least once per pay period, and it must include the employee’s name, address, and Social Security number; the dates of employment; the total number of hours worked; the employee’s regular rate of pay; the amount of overtime pay earned; and the total amount of wages earned.
If you believe your employer has violated the Kansas Wage Payment Act, you may be entitled to recover back pay, liquidated damages, and other damages.
Understanding Kansas Wage Laws
Kansas has certain labor laws that differ from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including the hourly threshold for overtime pay. However, in cases of wage theft claims, the state law applies only in instances where it provides greater rights or protections than federal law. Whichever is more favorable to the worker will apply.
Overtime Pay for Kansas Workers: Overtime pay applies when an employee works more than 40 hours per week. However, employees engaged in executive, administrative, or professional capacities (and paid at least $35,568 annually) are exempt from the overtime requirement.
Independent Contractors: Kansas employers are not allowed to mischaracterize employee roles to avoid paying overtime compensation. Merely labeling a worker as an independent contractor, or even entering into a written agreement, is not enough to avoid the labor laws on overtime pay. While there is no single definition of “independent contractor” under Kansas labor laws, there are several factors to be considered in determining if a worker in Kansas is an employee or independent contractor. And if properly classified as an independent contractor under Kansas law, workers are typically eligible for only the specific compensation bargained for in a contract.
Payroll Deductions: Employers may not withhold any portion of an employee’s wages unless required to by Kansas or federal law or if the employer has written authorization to make deductions from an employee’s paycheck.
The following items can be deducted from wages:
- Deductions for any lawful purpose accruing to the benefit of the employee if the employee has given written authorization for the deduction (for example, insurance, 401K, pensions, bonds and savings programs).
The following items cannot be deducted:
- Cash shortages in common money till.
- Losses due to breakage, damage, acceptance of bad checks, and default of customer credit except in certain limited cases.
- Lost or stolen property unless certain conditions are met.
- Personal protective equipment, in most cases.
Work Breaks: Kansas labor law does not require employers to give breaks or meal periods to adults. Employees are only entitled to breaks if its the employer’s policy to provide them. However, employers cannot require employees to perform work-related activities during break time, unless the employee is compensated for it.
Vacation Days: Many Kansas employers choose to provide vacation leave as part of a benefits packages to attract employees, but state laws don’t require them to. In these situations, employers may set the policies – including “use it or lose it” policies that state that terminating employees forfeit accrued but unused vacation time.
Statute of Limitations: The deadline for filing an overtime claim in Kansas adheres to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires that employees file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the employer’s wage violation. For example, a lawsuit filed today to seek recovery of back overtime would only apply to the overtime accrued in the prior 2 years. The statute of limitations may be extended to three years if an employer’s violation of the FLSA was willful. An FLSA violation is deemed willful if the employer knew that its conduct was prohibited by the FLSA or showed reckless disregard.