Failure to report unclaimed
paychecks can cost employers
Q: Occasionally an employee will leave a job and never return to pick up the various personal belongings he’s left behind. What obligations does the employer have in these circumstances?
A: Oklahoma law requires a “person holding property, tangible or intangible, presumed abandoned and subject to custody as unclaimed property under the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act,” to file a report with the Oklahoma state treasurer. Since the statute defines a person to include businesses, the employer is subject to these mandatory reporting requirements.
Q: What kinds of “property” do employers have to report?
A: The act requires employers to report any tangible or intangible property whose value is $50 or more. While this obviously includes tangible items such as tools or computer equipment, the most common form of unclaimed property for employers to report is unclaimed wages, which includes uncashed paychecks more than a year old. Employers are required to report property whose value is under $50 as well, but those only need be reported in the aggregate, not on an individualized basis.
Q: What is the process for reporting?
A: The required reporting form is maintained by the Oklahoma state treasurer’s office and can be accessed online. For an unclaimed paycheck, the report must include the name and last known address of the person to whom the check belongs, a description of the property, when the check became payable, and the last date of employment. Employers need to file the report by Nov. 1 of each year to include any property reportable as of the preceding July 1. The statute also requires employers to send written notice of the unclaimed property (assuming it is for more than $50) to the former employee’s last known address at least 120 days prior to filing the report, and to maintain records about the unclaimed property for at least four years after it has been reported. If the last known address of the former employee is in another state, employers will need to consult the state laws of the state where they believe the person to reside, and comply with the reporting requirements of that state.
Q: What happens if an employer forgets to file the report by the deadline?
A: Failure to comply with Oklahoma’s reporting requirements can be costly. The fines include paying interest at an annual rate of 10 percent from the date the property should have been paid in addition to a penalty ranging from $100 for each day the report has not been filed, up to $5,000.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER