Most companies reissue payroll checks for a certain amount of time after the date it was issued. When you find an old, uncashed paycheck, act fast to determine whether the company can reissue the check. There is a statute of limitations on how long companies must honor payroll obligations, and it can take some time for the company to review its old human resources records.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Since the Uniform Commercial Code states that banks do not have to cash checks that are over six months old, you may need to ask your boss to reissue the paycheck you failed to cash.
Date on Check
It is likely your company includes a note on the check that makes it valid for a certain period. For example, it might say "Void after 90 days." Look at the date on your paycheck to see if you found it soon enough to deposit it.
If the check doesn't have a void by date, the Uniform Commercial Code applies, which says that banks are not obligated to cash any check that is more than six months old.
Statute of Limitations
The U.S. Department of Labor requires employers to provide back pay to previous or current employees for up to two years. Check the date on the check to see if it falls within that period. If so, you can take the check to the employer and request a new check. The company should be able to look through the records for your timesheets from that period and pull up old accounting records to void the old check and issue you a new one.
Although it's still possible the company would reissue your check after two years, it is not required to do so. Most only keep payroll records for three years, so if your check is older than that, don't be surprised if the company rejects your request for a new check.
New Company Takeovers
If the company that issued the check was bought out by another company, it's unlikely you can recoup your payroll money. During buyouts, any outstanding payouts that are older than the void period -- such as 90 days -- are added back into the general ledger to help close the accounts of the old company owners. The new company has its own set of accounts, which are unlikely to include old, expired obligations of the previous company.
Check Unclaimed Property
If it has been longer than two years since the check was issued, visit the website of your state Department of Treasury's unclaimed property division. Companies often present unclaimed checks to the state. This gets the check off the company's books while keeping the funds available for you. Some companies present checks to the state after one year instead of two. To recoup money from the state, you must prove your identity, usually by sending a copy of your birth certificate or driver's license, and provide a valid address.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.