Employees, Don't Leave Your Unpaid Commissions Behind
If your current employer-employee relationship comes to an end, for any reason, don’t make the mistake of walking away and leaving unpaid commissions behind. All too often employees are told that commissions are forfeit, or otherwise not required to be paid, when an employee leaves a job. Understandably, the employee accepts the employer’s explanation and essentially walks away without receiving commissions that may be legally owed to the employee. Before you make that mistake, do a little research and consult with an experienced Pennsylvania employment law attorney to ensure that you don’t leave your money behind when you walk out the door.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, or WPCL, governs the payment of wages. Under the WPCL, commissions are clearly considered wages. As such, there is a good chance that your employer is required to pay you all commissions earned to date when you leave your employment with the company. Sometimes, the issue revolves around whether or not the commission has actually been earned yet at the time the employee leaves. For example, if the deal has not yet “closed,” the employer may have a valid argument that the commission was not yet earned when the employee left the company; however, employers frequently claim they “just never pay commissions” to a parting employee without having a valid argument for holding back the commissions. In this case, it is worth an employee’s time to do a bit of investigating before leaving the company in an effort to determine if commissions are, in fact, due.
A good place to start that investigation is with the employer’s employee handbook. Employees frequently tuck the handbook in the back of a drawer and forget they even have it. If you are planning to sever the relationship with your employer and you have unpaid commissions on the table, now is the time to dig out the handbook and find out if your employer truly does have a policy that dictates how unpaid commissions are paid when the employer-employee relationship ends.
Along with perusing the employee handbook, you should look through the files and records provided to you by your employer. Has your employer given you a written statement indicating how much you are due in commissions? Employers often provide employees with statement of commissions earned but then don’t pay those commissions until the following quarter. If there is a written statement showing the amount owed, then there is a strong argument to be made that the commission is earned and, therefore, owed to you.
While a written policy and/or record is ideal, the absence of both does not preclude a claim for unpaid commissions. Ask yourself this: Where does your commission money go if it is not paid to you when you leave? The answer is to your employer, of course. Does it seem fair that your employer should keep your hard-earned commission money simply because you are leaving the company?
Before you close the door on your job and walk away for good, find out what you are owed. The WPCL is a strong weapon in the fight for wages. If your claim is successful, the WPCL allows you to collect unpaid wages owed to you along with an additional 25 percent as a penalty plus the recovery of attorney’s fees.
If you believe you are owed unpaid commissions, contact an experienced Pennsylvania employment law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Contact the Conshohocken employment law attorneys at Curely & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your consultation.