Do you have to pay an employee who worked after being fired?

Dear Evil HR Lady,

We had an employee we had to put on leave….he decided he was going to file unemployment he assumed he was fired. We never said anything about firing him. So we took him out of our system and the payroll service closed his file etc….two weeks into the new year he got a call from someone who is one of our vendors that does some training for us telling this person to come to work….without company knowledge or approval. So he shows up and works a day. Doesn’t sign in doesn’t check in main office..we don’t find out until end of we have to legally pay him?

Well, you’ve already pegged this as a legal question, which it is and you should consult an attorney. I realize that it may be more expensive to consult an attorney than to just pay the person, but you may be in for a boatload of other problems.

I think your big error is that you put him on leave, but didn’t fire him and didn’t tell him he was fired. The reality is, you can file for unemployment for a temporary lay off, which means that his filing this does not indicate that he resigned either.

Now it’s true that I can’t just do some work and then send you a bill for it and expect payment. (Of course, you certainly can send me payment! Please!) But, it’s also true that if I’m a non-exempt employee and you tell me, “don’t come in on Tuesday,” and I come in anyway and work all day you have to pay me. You can fire me, but first you have to pay me.

Because you never officially told this guy he was fired, you may legally have to pay.

Also, since he didn’t sign in or check in, does he expect to be paid by you guys? Maybe he expects to bill the client directly. Who knows?

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6 thoughts on “Do you have to pay an employee who worked after being fired?

    1. I’m sure you just have piles of cash that you didn’t know how to spend. Well, I have a solution for that!

  1. I’m confused. You didn’t discuss with him the when and why he was put on leave? You also did not reach out to him regarding his presumed ‘resignation’ or ‘firing’?

    What in the world?

    1. Nikki, extreme stupidity or extreme vileness.

      I read one similar story in the past. Place: Eastern Europe. Time: 10 or 15 years ago. Main character – some random young guy. He was happily working, as many random young guys do.

      One day he went to tech conference. Public institutions turned up there too. With a revolutionary (for that time) piece of software that calculates various benefits that one may be entitled to. People were allowed to try it out.

      Of course, the guy tried it. Now imagine his shock, when the official, who was pressing the buttons, told the guy that he was fired ~6 months ago. His employers notified every required person and institution except the guy himself.

      He was working without suspecting anything. Hell knows, for how long it would have continued if not that conference. At least dude was lucky to get his payment. Well, part of it, because his employers paid a whopping 0 for his taxes, therefore, no insurance, retirement money and so on for him.

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