The Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs the federal minimum wage, overtime, child labor and record-keeping laws, does not require employers to give employees a pay stub. However, many states require it. The state usually lists what should be shown on the pay stub.
A pay stub is a breakdown of the employee’s earnings and deductions and shows how the employer arrived at the employee’s gross-to-net earnings. Without a pay stub it can be difficult for the employee to understand how he was paid. Subsequently, many employers give employees a pay stub even if state law does not mandate it. A pay stub is an acceptable proof of income. If the pay stub includes year-to-date data, the employee can use it to file her tax return if she does not have her W-2 form.
The requirements for what must be shown on an employee’s paycheck stub vary by state. More commonly, the state requires the employer to show gross wages earned for the payroll period; deductions paid either as a total amount or listed separately; hours worked and applicable pay rates, such as regular and overtime; if applicable, piece rate units earned and the respective piece rate; employee name and the last four digits of his Social Security number, or his employee identification number; and the employer’s name and address. If the employee is salaried-exempt, the employer does not show hours worked, only salary paid. Salaried employees do not receive overtime and are not paid according to hours worked.
Common paycheck stub abbreviations include REG for regular hours; OT for overtime hours; SAL for salary; FIT or FWT for federal income tax; SIT or SWT for state income tax; SS, FICA or OASDI for Social Security tax; Med for Medicare tax; GARN for wage garnishment; CH SUPP for child support withholding; 401k for retirement contributions; MED125 for a Section 125 medical plan; DEN125 for a Section 125 dental plan; STD for short-term disability; and LTD for long-term disability. If city or local income tax applies, your employer abbreviates them however it wants. Ohio school district tax, for example, may show as “OH tax.”
The year-to-date data on the pay stub should match the employee’s W-2. Some states require that employers give only employees who are paid via direct deposit a pay stub. Employees who do not receive a pay stub but want one should explain the value of receiving one to their employer. They can also check with their state labor department for that state's pay stub laws.