Burn Rate

Paid on Time and in Full

If you’re lucky and your internship hasn’t been cancelled, you’re working this summer. For some of you, the company you’re working for may be a little…less efficient with their HR process. I’ve certainly worked for places that didn’t exactly have the razor efficiency of Microsoft HR.

More bluntly, your company may be screwing up your pay. Don’t let them. Your pay should be on time and in full. You should have an itemized list of withheld amounts, such as for taxes, Medicare, etc. No excuses.

It may take time to set up your pay, whether that’s due to paperwork, direct deposit issues or whatever. But it should not take months to set up your pay.

If you haven’t been paid, either HR has screwed up, the company cannot afford payroll or you’re getting screwed. The first one is fixable but unacceptable. The last two are also fixable—get a new job. If the company cannot afford payroll, they’re probably going under. If you’re getting exploited, the job isn’t worth your dignity.

Make sure your pay is in your contract. You should have a clear amount in writing. Before you do any work, this amount should be agreed upon.

When you get paid, double check the math. I’ve gotten stiffed on my pay. And don’t accept the generic answer of “well taxes take a lot out”. I’ve gotten paychecks where my tax rate worked out to 40 or 50 percent. That’s not right1.

If you haven’t gotten paid, tell your boss that you cannot in good conscience work without pay. You will not be doing any work until the pay issue is remedied. The pay issue might be fixed faster than you expect. You may think “oh but I’m just a lowly intern, they can fire me for saying that”. Interns are hard to hire. They’d lose a lot more money in recruiting costs and onboarding than if they just paid you. If they do actually fire you then good. You likely dodged a bullet. Plus you can still take them to small claims court for the pay (I am not a lawyer so double check this).

If they try to guilt you, screw them. You deserve to be paid on time and in full. Repeat that to yourself. If a fast food worker can be paid on time and in full, so can you.

Some interns take a small transgression on their part as a reason to absolve a larger transgression on the company’s part. Something along the lines of: “I’m taking too long to write this component, so it’s okay that they didn’t pay me on time.” That is utter nonsense. First, there’s nothing wrong with taking a little longer to write something, especially as an intern. Second, even mediocre engineers deserve to be paid on time and in full.

Everybody deserves to be paid on time and in full. That’s why we work at jobs in the first place. When I go to a restaurant, I expect my food to come in a reasonable amount of time and in its full quantity. I don’t expect half of a burger 2 hours late.

You should be paid on time and in full.

  1. Math-wise that is. Policy wise? Meh 

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