Amongst the laws that California has instituted to protect employees are what is known as Final Paycheck laws. The idea behind these laws is to ensure that an employee leaving an employer is paid out quickly and fully. Employees are regularly given too little, too late for their final paycheck. An unemployment lawyer may be able to help you if that happens, but it first pays to be aware of how the final paycheck process should occur.
Your final paycheck should include everything that you’ve earned and everything you’re owed. The final paycheck can be comprised of four things:
An employer should withhold the standard state taxes and federal taxes, as well as social security. The employer should also withhold any court-mandated payments — this would be something like child support. Beyond that, if an employee steals money or property, the employer may rightfully withhold the value of what was stolen. Similarly, if there was any damage done as a direct result of the employee’s actions, the value of that damage may also be deducted. Other than those things, the rest of the owed money must go to the employee.
If you have been fired from your position, the expectation is that you should receive your final paycheck on the day you are fired. If you quit, the notice you give determines when you will receive the paycheck. If you quit with no notice, then your employer has up to 72 hours to provide your final paycheck. If, though, you give three days’ notice before you quit, then you should receive your final paycheck on your last day.
There are a few exceptions to these rules. Seasonal workers who work the canning, drying, and curing industry and work with fruit, fish, or vegetables must be paid within 72 hours. If you work in film production and your payment requires a special computation, then your employer may legally wait until your next regular payday. Anyone laid off in the oil drilling business must be paid within 24 hours; however, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays are excluded from that period. Those who work on a short-term basis in concerts or theatrical events may be paid according to their collective bargaining agreement.
If you have received your paychecks previously through direct deposit, then your final paycheck may also be directly deposited into your account. If you have previously been paid with a physical check, then that is the way you will be paid again. You may also request that your final check be mailed to a designated address. For final paycheck timing purposes, the date the mail is sent will be considered the date the payment is received.
The penalty the employer is assessed is called a ‘waiting time’ penalty. The penalty is equal to one day of the employee’s wages for each day that the final paycheck was late, with a 30-day maximum penalty. If the employer’s violation is deemed not to be the product of a good-faith error, then the damages will be doubled.
It’s possible that a final paycheck issue may stem from a wrongful termination. So if you find that your former has been unwilling to release your final paycheck, it may be worthwhile to explore the possibility of wrongful termination. Wrongful termination occurs when someone is fired from a job for a reason that employers are prohibited from using in making firing decisions. It even may be that your employer is retaliating against something you did that is lawfully protected. If you think your paycheck issues are related to a wrongful termination, be sure to bring your concerns up to an employment attorney.
Your final paycheck must include any wages earned since your last paycheck. It must include any commissions you’ve earned since your last paycheck. If you are owed any business expenses, those must also be included. You should also be paid out the value of any unused vacation days, sick days, and paid time off that you have accrued.
Aside from the standard tax deductions and any court-mandated payments, there are two ways employers can deduct from the final paycheck. If the employee stole any money or property, that value may be deducted. If anything was damaged as a direct result of the employee’s actions, the employer may withhold the value of the damaged property.
If you are fired, an employer must pay your final paycheck that same day.
If you quit with three days’ notice or more, you should receive your final paycheck on your last day. If you quit without notice, you should receive your final pay within 72 hours of your last day.
If you are having trouble getting your final paycheck, make sure you document what you are owed, when you quit, and each day that you fail to receive your final paycheck. Be sure you contact the Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez as quickly as possible so that we can help you chase down that final paycheck.