Unclaimed Checks in Unclaimed Checks in Your Payroll Department

If your payroll system is not set up with Direct Deposit then there is a chance that you have unclaimed checks being stored at your office. What do you do with those?

It is a good idea to have an Unclaimed Checks policy in your employee handbook. We list some suggestions for wording below.

1. Determine if the employee is entitled to the check.

2. Make a concerted effort to deliver the check.

3. Hold the check for two weeks.

4. Send check to state unclaimed property

5. If a check is returned after being mailed, specify a period of time where it will be held at the office for pick up before turning it in to the state.

Employers should keep a record of the employee’s name and last known address for a specific time period after the wages become reportable. After the specified time period has lapsed, sending the check to your state’s abandoned/unclaimed property department probably does your former employee a favor. Because many companies do not have a mechanism for holding on to unclaimed property for long periods of time, chances are that at some point the check would be lost or destroyed. However, while abandoned property laws vary from state to state, Washington’s state law *“protects unclaimed property until it can be returned. There is no time limit for filing a claim and rightful owners or their heirs can claim property reported since 1955. The state may auction the content of safe deposit boxes, however, if not claimed within five years.”*

Some other particulars of unclaimed property laws in the Pacific Northwest:


  • Unpaid wages, including wages represented by un-presented payroll checks, owing in the ordinary course of the holder’s business which remain unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after becoming payable are presumed abandoned.*


  • Property becomes unclaimed if the owner can´t be contacted by the holder of the asset within a specified period of time. Examples of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, uncashed payroll or dividend checks, and safe deposit box contents.

  • Unclaimed money is held in trust in the Common School Fund forever for claim. The fund’s interest earnings benefit K-12 public schools through biennial distributions to Oregon’s 197 school districts.**


*Source – http://ucp.dor.wa.gov/aboutUCP.aspx

**Source – http://www.oregon.gov/dsl/UP/Pages/about_us.aspx


Improving Your Internship Program

Based on all the buzz around OEN’s upcoming Internship Workshop, it seems like companies are reevaluating the value and purpose of internships. Young business owners who have gone on to bury unsatisfactory internships under a mountain of career achievements seem determined not to relegate stereotypically negative interning experiences to junior and senior college students a few years behind them. This increased awareness of the need to develop more meaningful intern programs is a good start, but companies need to make sure that their good intentions translate to action. Here are a few of our suggestions. 

Pay your interns. Companies are able to choose interns from a large, enthusiastic pool of students, graduates, and young professionals trying out a new career. But interns are not free labor, and confusing the two can mean legal trouble for your business. If your company is benefiting from the work your interns are producing, your interns should be receiving a paycheck according to these U.S. Department of Labor criteria. By agreeing to pay interns, you’re putting additional pressure on them to prove their worth, and these days so few young people have the luxury of accepting an unpaid internship, regardless of how great the opportunity is.

Teach your interns. Give interns a quick lesson in your company architecture and objectives. Providing this education to them at the beginning of the internship provides them with a greater understanding of how your company functions, what their place is in the company, and how their work contributes to the business. You’re going to receive completed work that is more aligned to your specific business needs if your interns know exactly what they need to do to get the job done.

Have specific projects for your interns. Even the most self-starting intern is going to be frustrated with the task of having to invent their own productive workday schedule. Lacking the business foresight of a veteran employee, when left to their own devices interns may unintentionally gravitate towards work that is unnecessary. Prevent this by having specific, well-defined tasks laid out for your interns to do. Once they’ve knocked a few of these projects out of the park, you can slowly begin to introduce work that requires a higher level of independent thinking.

Include your interns. Keeping interns secluded or treating them like second-class citizens within your company hurts everyone. Being in the dark about basic business functions or unaware of the key conversations going on in your company will inhibit the depth of their insights and likely detract from the relevance of their projects. When your interns speak up at meetings, be receptive to their ideas. They’re approaching the opportunity as a learning experience, and living up to their expectations in that regard will keep them motivated to live up to yours. Additionally, having a fully-integrated intern gives you a valuable opportunity to learn about how your company is perceived by viewing it through an intelligent, fresh pair of young eyes.

Be flexible. Giving your interns some flexibility is important, especially if you’re hiring students. Unless the internship is an explicitly intensive, full-time gig, the chance that your intern is working a second job, or taking classes on the side are pretty high. Be open to the idea of partial telecommuting or only coming into the office for special meetings, and be understanding when faced with scheduling conflicts or the rare double-booking.

Give feedback, get feedback. Strong, silent type employers can be confusing and frustrating to interns. Providing regular, targeted feedback allows interns to adjust their performance and will result in better, more valuable work. Inversely, be sure your door is always open for interns with inquiries or suggestions about their experience interning with your company.

What golden rules do you follow when employing interns? What benefits, if any, did employing interns have on your company? Answer these questions, or submit other intern-related thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Additional Reading:

Working with a Dog: The Art of Office Pet Etiquette

Chief - Pamiris PDX Office Dog

Meet Chief, the Pamiris PDX office dog.

The inside of our Portland headquarters, located right off the corner of 21st and Irving, looks exactly like you’d expect a young, local office to look. Bikes line the atrium, next to a coffee table covered with Pamiris Payroll brochures and swag. Offices constructed out of wood and glass offer the perfect balance of privacy and sociability. Jars of Sterling Coffee Roasters coffee beans sit, almost empty, next to a well-used espresso machine. But the first thing most people notice is Chief, the Pamiris office dog. Chief is a 1-year-old lab/mastiff mix, certainly not a lapdog. And while the Pamiris team appreciates his enthusiasm and charm, we also accept that not everyone is going to adore Chief like we do. How does a business maintain a professional work environment without compromising a love for their dog? Here are some of our standards:

  • Take care of any outstanding behavioral problems before moving your dog into your office. Ask friends and family for candid feedback on your dog’s behavior. Identify any problems and make sure they’re taken care of before your pet sets foot in the workplace.
  • Keep your dog clean. Don’t give clients or prospective employees any reason to dislike your dog before they even see it. Maintain a regular cleaning regimen to avoid unpleasant smells.
  • Inform first-time office visitors that you have an office dog. If they’re aware of the excited greeting they’ll receive upon entering, they’re less likely to be put off by it. Additionally, mentioning the presence of a pet upfront allows clients with allergies to suggest an alternate meeting place.
  • Designate a dog-free meeting room for clients who may be allergic. For some, the inability to buddy up with your pup isn’t dictated by personal preference, but by health restrictions. Be sure these clients have a place to conduct business with you where they won’t be distracted by itchy eyes or a more serious allergic reaction.
  • Make sure your dog gets some exercise before arriving in the office. A dog with too much energy bounding through a small office is a perfect recipe for toppled monitors and shredded reports. Take your dog for a quick walk or run around the block before the two of you head to work. The morning activity will mellow out your pooch and the fresh air will clear your head allowing you to work more productively.
  • Take responsibility for your pet. Every now and again accidents happen. Even the best owners have to clean up after mystery stomach flus or quiet a fit of sporadic barking. Always apologize promptly and sincerely for any misbehavior. If applicable, couple your apologies with a plan of action. Show the affected person or people that their concerns are important to you, and that you’re taking steps to fix the problem.

Awareness is the key to a peaceful workplace, with or without an office pooch. Remain sensitive to the needs and preferences of your clients and employees. They’ll appreciate your considerateness, and your dog will appreciate the extra positive attention.

Does your office have a pet policy? An office dog? What tips do you have for maintaining a productive, worry-free atmosphere? Leave them in the comments. The writer of the most interesting tip will receive a package of McTavish gingerbread cookies embellished with the Pamiris logo. Trust us – they’re really good.

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