Colleen Flynn and Sarah Manthey
The old school yard adage “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers!” does not apply to paychecks. Employers should be aware that those paychecks that employees forget to pick up or cash do not become the employer’s property. When wages are left behind, employers are cautioned that they must comply with the procedures for reporting and remitting unclaimed property as set forth in Florida Statute Chapter 717.
Unpaid wages become “unclaimed” within the meaning of the Florida unclaimed property law if the wages are not claimed by the owner for more than 1 year after becoming payable. The law sets forth the process that employers must comply with to report and remit unclaimed wages. First, employers are required to perform due diligence by sending a letter to the employee to his or her last known address. This step provides the employee an opportunity to collect the property. Second, employers must report the unclaimed wages to the Florida Department of Financial Services if the employee does not claim the wages after the employer performs some due diligence. Last, the employer must submit an unclaimed property report and remit the unclaimed wages to the Florida Department of Financial Services. The Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Accounting and Auditing, Bureau of Unclaimed Property website’s at www.fltreasurehunt.org contains more information on the process to be followed.
The requirements for reporting and remitting unclaimed property are well defined by Florida law and must be strictly observed by employers with respect to unclaimed wages. An employer may be subject to penalties for failure to report and remit unclaimed property such as unclaimed wages to the Florida Department of Financial Services. Employers are encouraged to consult with an employment attorney to ensure compliance with Florida’s unclaimed property law whenever they have unclaimed wages of a former employee.