Many Utah employers are unaware that they have obligations with respect to unclaimed wages. In Utah, unpaid wages, bonuses, and commissions are presumed abandoned if they remain unclaimed for more than one year from the time the amounts became payable. But Utah employers may not simply just dispose of the unclaimed wages; instead, they have some affirmative obligations.
On March 24, 2017, Governor Herbert signed the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, which repealed the old law (Uniform Unclaimed Property Act), and re-enacted the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (effective May 9, 2017). The new law is similar to the old law but amends the property holder’s (employer’s) reporting, notice, and record-keeping requirements.
Specifically, under the re-enacted law, employers must file a report with the Utah State Treasurer-Unclaimed Property Division before November 1 of each year (covering the 12 months preceding July 1 of that year) and remit the wages with the report. The report shall be in a format approved by the Administrator and shall contain a description of the property, name, last known address, and social security number or taxpayer identification if known, of the apparent owner of the property.
Before employers file the report with the Utah State Treasury, employers must send notice to the apparent property owner, not more than 180 days, nor less than 60 days, before filing the report. Additionally, if the apparent owner has consented to receive electronic mail delivery from the employer, then the employer must send the notice both by First-Class Mail to the apparent owner’s last-known address and by electronic mail. The notice must contain a heading that reads substantially as follows: “Notice. The State of Utah requires us to notify you that your property may be transferred to the custody of the state’s unclaimed property administrator if you do not contact us before (insert date that is 30 days after the date of this notice).” The notice must also: (a) identify the nature and the value of the property that is the subject of the notice; (b) state that the property will be turned over to the administrator; (c) state that after the property is turned over to the administrator the apparent owner that seeks the return of the property may file a claim with the administrator; (d) state that the property is not legal tender of the United States [and] may be sold by the administrator; (e) provide instructions that the apparent owner shall follow to prevent the holder from reporting or delivering the property to the administrator; and (f) include the name, address, and electronic address or telephone number to contact the employer.
Employers are required to retain records for five years after the later of the date the report was filed or the last date a timely report was due to be filed. Additionally, employers that deliver property to the administrator in good faith and substantially comply with Utah Code Annotated Title 67, Chapter 4a, Sections 501 & 502 will be relieved of all liability. However, an employer that fails to report, pay, or deliver property in compliance with this Act could face civil penalties of $200 for each day the duty is not performed, including interest, up to a maximum of $5,000. Evading the obligations provided herein, and fraudulent reports could subject employers to stiffer penalties up to $25,000, plus 25 percent of the amount or value of any property that should have been reported.
If you have questions about this newly re-enacted law, please contact your MSEC representative.