Employees of several small businesses were paid late Friday after payroll and benefits platform Zenefits closed for the Juneteenth holiday and experienced a glitch, two people affected told Crunchbase News.
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Zenefits provides tools for businesses to handle HR, onboarding, benefits and payroll. It’s used by many small and medium-sized businesses. The San Francisco-based company has raised at least $584 million in known venture funding, per Crunchbase data, and was most recently valued at $4.5 billion by private investors when it raised funding in 2015.
On Friday, several people took to the comments section of a Facebook post Zenefits made in honor of Juneteenth, which this week became a federal holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S., to complain that their employees hadn’t been paid, despite their respective companies processing payroll.
The post was soon deleted.
John Bazyk, CEO of Connecticut-based security system company Command Corp., told Crunchbase News that he realized Friday morning that his company’s employees hadn’t been paid after one of them contacted him.
Command usually sees a tax withdrawal and employees’ net pay come out of its bank account on Wednesday, but this week only the tax withdrawal was taken on Wednesday, Bazyk said.
The payroll amount was taken out this morning, but had yet to be disbursed to employees as of 4 p.m. Eastern, he said.
Bazyk said he spent four hours Friday trying to deal with the issue, and hadn’t received any communication from Zenefits such as an email alerting him of the issue.
Some employees have bills that automatically debit from their bank accounts, he said, and not being paid could put them in a bind.
“The employees are upset at me, they think I didn’t run payroll,” Bazyk said. “Some of these are new employees. They’re joining a new company and it’s like, ‘Wait I’m not getting paid?’ ”
Usually preceding a holiday, Zenefits will remind customers to run payroll early, Bazyk said, but that wasn’t the case this week. He noted that he understands it’s a unique situation — with President Biden on Thursday signing legislation that made Friday a new federal holiday in celebration of Juneteenth — but the situation and lack of communication from Zenefits were frustrating.
“Even if they make it right, we’re probably going to leave them because it’s an unacceptable mistake,” Bazyk said.
It’s not clear how many of Zenefits’ customers or their employees were impacted by the error.
Nancy, a controller and HR administrator at a company in the Washington, D.C., area, said she was notified by two employees Friday that they hadn’t been paid. Around 2:15 p.m. Eastern, she saw a notification in the Zenefits portal acknowledging the issue. Nancy did not want to share her full name because she was not authorized to speak on behalf of her employer.
“Businesses can make mistakes,” she said. “Whatever caused the debit to not go out is not good. But then to not be there to answer what happened … that’s bad.”
A Zenefits spokeswoman said in an email to Crunchbase News that the issue causing the payroll delay was resolved, and that employees would receive payment by 5 p.m. Pacific time.
“Today, Zenefits experienced an issue that resulted in a delay for some employees’ direct deposits,” the statement read. “This has been resolved and we can confirm that employees who did not receive their direct deposit this morning will receive it today by 5 PM PT. All employees will be paid and the funds have already been processed. We are currently waiting on the banks to send them out this afternoon.”
Another Zenefits spokeswoman said in an email at 2:40 p.m. Pacific time that the issue was resolved and affected employees had been paid.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
Editor’s Note: This story was updated after it was first published to reflect that payment for affected employees had gone through late Friday afternoon, after Crunchbase News first spoke with sources.
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