What If Your Employer Doesn't Give You A Pay Stub? - The Legal Implications


Picture this: You’ve just started a new job. Your brain is fried from all the new information you’ve had to learn. What your role is. How to do it well. So many new faces you need to learn the names of. It’s a stressful time, to say the least.

Then, you get to your first payday. That moment when you know for sure that you’re a part of your new team, that your journey into your new job is finally getting started. You’re being recognized for the hard work you’ve put in so far.

But, it never comes. For whatever reason, you don’t receive your pay stub. Not from your manager. Not in the mail. Not in an email. It’s a nightmare scenario, that plagues too many of our worst thoughts, and is nerve-wracking when that fear becomes real. It can feel like it leads to a spiral of terrible questions.

 Did something go wrong? Have I missed something? Did I not sign a document somewhere? How am I going to manage the next month? What in the world happened?

There are plenty of reasons why you may not have received your well-earned paystub. In this article, we’re going to cover some of those reasons, why it’s a big deal if you haven’t received one when you should, and what to do if you don’t receive yours.

Also read: Why Pay Stubs Are Important At Tax Time

Table Of Contents

What is a pay stub?

If you’re starting a new job right now, one of the most important things you need to get your affairs in order is a pay stub. Also known as a paycheck, this little piece of paper is a pretty big deal.

Not only is it proof of your earnings for a given period, but it also has other essential information, like your social security number, your pay rate, your earnings before taxation, any deductions taken out by your employer., as well as net pay, which is the amount of money you take home after taxes, deductions, and other contributions.

Obviously, having a paystub is essential for things like your budget you have to work with for the rest of the month, but the information on your paycheck is vital for so many other reasons.

It can tell you if the IRS has taken more in taxes than is fair for someone of your pay grade, or is a good record of your finances if you are ever inspected by them, or if your employer has not paid you enough for the last working period.

Plus, if you’re working more than one job at a time, your paystub is an excellent way to check that the amount of tax they are paying is correct for each job you are doing, and aren’t being mistaken for the other role you are performing.

So, needless to say at this point, having a paystub does a lot for helping you manage your finances.

Also read: 7 Advantages Of Creating Custom Check Stubs

hand shake

Is it illegal for your employer to not give you a pay stub?

The short answer is: No. But, the reality is more complicated than that.

Technically, whether your employer has to give you a pay stub falls under federal law as what is known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (or FLSA for short).

This act covers a whole host of different business practice standards for all paid sectors for both part-time and full-time workers. These include laws around child labor standards, rules about overtime pay, establishing minimum wage pay rates, and record-keeping for employment and work roles, which is what the rules on paystubs fall under.

Now, the FLSA does require your employer to keep a good record of the wages you as a worker are paid, as well as the amount of hours you are recorded as working, for at least a 3-year period, and any wage calculation your employer makes, needs to be kept for at least 2 years. But, under this federal law at least, your employer is not required by law.

This doesn’t, however, mean that your boss is allowed to just withhold information about your pay. Whilst it is not covered in federal law, there are many state laws that do require an employer to give access to their employee’s financial information, but this will vary depending on which state in the US you are working in. When talking about pay stubs, there are 3 broad groups that most states will fall under when it comes to these requirements on pay stubs:

  • No requirements - These states are Florida, Alabama, Ohio, Arkansas, and Georgia, among a few others. In states like these, there are few or no laws in place that require your employer to give you a pay stub and can withhold that information at their own discretion.

  • Access States - Most of the states in the US fall under this category. Places like Kentucky, New Jersey, Arizona, Virginia, Michigan, and others like them, do require employers to give some kind of access to their information on pay. This doesn’t necessarily mean a physical paper copy of their pay stub. It will also include electronic statements for their employees.

  • Access/Print States - States like New Mexico, Washington, Massachusetts, and Colorado, fall under this group. Like access states, your employer is required to give you access to view your payment information. However, unlike access states, these areas are required to give a written or printed copy of their pay stub. If an employee is using an electronic pay stub of some kind, then the employer must ensure that they have access to some kind of means to print this information out. Keep in mind that in these states, pay stubs aren’t required to be included in your paycheck every month, so keep in mind that.

There are another 2 groups that a few states in the US fall under, though this is a much smaller number:

  • Opt-out States - For Delaware, Minnesota, and Oregon, if these states adopt a method of delivery for payment information, like by envelope or as part of a paycheck, then if an employer decides to use a paperless method to send out this information to its employees, which they will have to consent to in some way, then there must be an opt-out option for them in order to send out paper pay stub copies.

  • Opt-In State - An employee must give consent to their employer that they agree to a paperless, electronic system of sending out pay stub information. Otherwise, employers provide printed or written evidence of their pay information. Currently, the only state to have this method is the state of Hawaii.

law hammer

What to do if your employer doesn’t give you a pay stub

With all this established, it is now important to figure out what you can do if your employer isn’t giving you a pay stub.

  • Firstly, it is worth checking in with your employer before a pay period, about if your employer does have some kind of payroll system

  • Make sure, if you haven’t received a pay stub when you are expecting one, that there hasn’t been a mistake. Sometimes they do happen after all.

  • If you live in an access/print state, then it is within your right as an employee to request some method of getting a printed pay stub. Check to see if your state falls into this category.

  • Whilst pay stubs aren’t a legal requirement in every state, there are usually means of getting a lot of the information that would normally be on a paystub, through other means. Check what your local state’s laws are on pay information to see what you are allowed access to, such as your rate of pay, date of your pay period, and other information.

    • If this is the case, that you do have a right to some kind of access, and your employer is still refusing to give you access, then you may have the option to sue your employer in a court of law to get this information.

Also read: Why Not to Use A Fake Pay Stub Generator?

writing up a contract


A paystub is one of the most important kinds of documents you need to navigate the tricky world of personal finances. As well as to keep a good record for you to fall back on when times call for it. Our pay stub maker is an excellent but simple way to generate pay stubs online. 

Hopefully, with this guide to finding how to get your information, you’ll be ready to know what to do when things get a little stressful, and that letter doesn’t come through your post box when the time comes.

Also read: Create Your Own Pay Stub Template

Frequently Asked Questions

It is generally illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for requesting a pay stub or exercising their rights under labor laws.

Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be able to sue your employer for not providing pay stubs. Consult an attorney to discuss your options.

Communicate with your employer about the importance of pay stubs and consider setting up direct deposit, which often includes electronic pay stubs.

You can use alternative documents to prove your income, such as bank statements, tax returns, or a letter from your employer confirming your earnings.

In some jurisdictions, it is illegal for employers not to provide pay stubs. However, laws vary, so it's important to research the specific regulations in your area.

Employers who don't provide pay stubs may face fines, penalties, or legal action from employees or government agencies.

Independent contractors typically don't receive pay stubs. Instead, they should track their earnings and expenses and report them on their tax returns.

A pay stub is a document provided by your employer that shows your gross pay, deductions, and net pay for a specific pay period.

Speak to your employer about the missing pay stub and request that they provide it. If they continue to not provide pay stubs, consider consulting an attorney or contacting your local labor department.

Pay stubs are important for verifying your income, tracking deductions, ensuring accurate payment, and maintaining your personal financial records.
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What If Your Employer Doesn't Give You A Pay Stub? - The Legal Implications
Samantha Clark

A Warrington College of Business graduate, Samantha handles all client relations with our top-tier partners. Read More

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