SB 698

While nearly all of UC Berkeley’s employees are paid on time, there are a small number of employees who have not been paid on time. Late wage payments are a hardship for employees. Supervisors and Managers' cooperation are necessary, particularly with respect to following established processes and timelines, to make sure that employees receive compensation on time. As explained below, the failure to pay employees on time will subject the University to fines imposed by the California Labor Commissioner. 

In addition to managing the transition to UCPath, we need to ensure we are mindful of the new state law, Senate Bill 698, which allows employees to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner if the University fails to issue wage payments on time. Beginning on January 1, 2020, late wage payments may have financial penalties for Berkeley and other UC locations. 

Unlike many employers, the university hires Lecturers, Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs), and other Academic Student Employees (ASEs), sometimes with little lead time. Where advanced planning can occur, every effort should be made to ensure that these employees are hired and onboarded in a timely manner, as the new law does not provide academic institutions any exceptions on this front.  

Please make sure to note the key information below about SB 698 and steps managers can take to ensure pay for their employees is not delayed.

  • Effective January 1, 2020, SB 698 allows employees to file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner (or state court) if the University fails to pay an employee’s wages on time.

  • The University will receive the employee’s wage claim and have an opportunity to dispute the claim or settle the matter. If the Labor Commissioner (or state court) finds in the employee’s favor, the University will be liable for any unpaid wages plus penalties.

  • Campus administration is currently evaluating how the payment of fines will be assessed should there be a finding by the Labor Commissioner or state court. 

Steps managers can take to ensure pay is not interrupted for employees:

Onboarding

  • New Hire Paperwork: Remind new hires they need to respond to the onboarding request and the importance of completing the necessary new hire forms in a timely manner. NOTE: (i.e., if a new hire does not attend their scheduled onboarding session or does not have the necessary documents to complete required new hire forms), they may not be able to begin on the agreed-upon start date. 

  • If the required new hire request and completed documents are not submitted on time (based on published schedules) to Berkeley Regional Service (BRS) staff (or Cal Performance or I-House  HR), the employee will not be updated in UCPath to be paid on time and should not begin work.  

Employee Timekeeping and Communications

  • Timesheets: Remind all employees to complete and submit their timesheets by the communicated deadlines and follow up to ensure completion. Managers should submit a timesheet, or add hours in CalTime, for hours that an employee is known to have worked in order to generate pay.

  • Hourly Employees: Hourly employees (students and staff), should be asked to log their hours each day via CalTime or on a paper timesheet, as appropriate, instead of waiting until the end of the pay period.

Collaborate with your HR Partner

  • Short Work Break (SWB): If you have employees who are on an SWB, work with your assigned HR Partner to make sure breaks are ended so the employee can be returned to pay status as necessary.

  • Plan Ahead: Collaborate with your HR Partner to obtain a report with approaching appointment end dates for your review, so you can request appointments be extended or ended, as appropriate.

  • BRS Process Review:  the BRS are reviewing their processes to determine enhancements that can be made to partner with departments to ensure employees are paid on time.

  

If you receive a formal wage claim directly from the Labor Commissioner’s Office filed by one of your employees: 

Use the Labor Commission Wage Claim Submission Form and attach a scanned copy of the claim. It will go to a central team for investigation and response.

  

SB 698 FAQS

 

How are the fines calculated?  Is there a maximum fine owed to the employee?

The University could be subject to penalties pursuant to Labor Code Sections 210 and 1197.1, plus liquidated damages, if the Labor Commissioner finds that an employee is owed regular wages, or if UC issued the wage payment late. 

There is no maximum damage amount. The amount of damages awarded depends on the amount of the late/unpaid wages.  

What constitutes late pay?

The language in the new law states it would "require those university employees who are paid on a monthly basis to be paid no later than 5 days after the close of the monthly payroll period and also provides that employees who are paid on a more frequent basis, be paid in accordance with the pay policies announced in advance by the university." There is a 5-day grace period for monthly paid employees.

What about bi-weekly paid employees?

Biweekly employees must be paid on the date established by the University and published in the biweekly payroll calendar.   

If the supervisor did not provide the required information for the UCPath cut-off date to issue pay for the next paycheck - is this still considered late pay?

Yes, this would be considered late pay.

If an employee is asked to start on a specific date and the employee agrees it is ok that their paycheck will be late, is this acceptable/legal?

There are no exceptions. An employee must be paid on time for work performed during the payroll period. The employee will not be able to begin work until the supervisor works with HR to ensure the employee record is set up in UCPath, so their first paycheck will be received "in accordance with the pay policies announced in advance by the university."

If an employee does not turn in their timesheet, is the expectation the manager should submit the request for the employee?

The University is obligated to pay for work performed during the payroll period. Managers should still submit the timesheet for hours that the employee is known to have worked in order to generate pay. Hourly employees (students and staff), should be asked to log in their hours each day they work instead of waiting until the end of the pay period.

If an employee communicates to Berkeley (WhistleBlower unit, their supervisor, HR etc.) they would like to file claim/ take legal action, what information should be provided to them?

Provide the link to the CA Labor Commissioner: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/HowToFileWageClaim.htm. Locations should also work quickly to identify and resolve the pay issue internally.

Are pending academic merit cases subject to SB 698 if the effective date has passed and a decision has not yet been made?

No, a pending academic merit case is not considered late pay until a decision on the merit case has been made and we communicate when the retroactive pay (if any) will be issued.

Please contact your Berkeley Regional Services (BRS) staff or department HR staff should you have additional questions regarding the above.