california labor laws

Whether your separation from a job is voluntary or involuntary, amicable or contentious, you need to receive a final payment of whatever wages you earned through your last day worked.

While the circumstances of a separation rarely affect your entitlement to a final paycheck, the circumstances can dictate how and when you receive that final paycheck.

If you are contemplating resignation, or you were recently separated from employment, our experienced employment attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group can help you navigate California labor laws. 

Please contact us today to speak with a California employment lawyer. We will help ensure you receive adequate and timely payment for your labor. 

What Are the California Labor Laws Regarding Final Paychecks? 

In many cases, employees in California who want to know about their rights regarding final paychecks can look to California Labor Code sections 201 and 202. These laws dictate the time, place, and method of your final payment. 

How Long Does an Employer Have to Pay You After a Job Separation? 

If you are the subject of a layoff or job termination in California, your employer must remit your final payment immediately.

For seasonal employees, there is an exception to this rule. An employer has up to 72 hours to deliver the last paycheck to a discharged or laid-off seasonal employee who works in one of the following fields: 

  • Curing of perishable fruit, fish, or vegetables;
  • Canning of perishable fruit, fish, or vegetables; or 
  • Drying of perishable fruit, fish, or vegetables. 

If you have a dispute with your employer regarding the wages you are owed at the end of your employment, your employer must still pay you all undisputed amounts within the timeframe dictated by the law.

An employee who quits or resigns from their job may have to wait longer for their final paycheck, depending on how they leave.

An employee who gives their employer at least a 72-hour notice of their intention to quit must receive payment of all earned wages on their last day of work.

But if an employer gets no notice of their employee’s intention to quit, the employer has 72 hours to deliver the employee’s final paycheck. 

How and Where Must an Employer Deliver an Employee’s Final Pay? 

Your final paycheck should include everything you earned through your last day of employment, including earned and unused vacation pay.

And the nature of the separation from your job determines how your employer must deliver your final payment. 

Depending on the circumstances of the end of your employment, the following requirements apply: 

  • If you are discharged or laid off, your employer must pay you immediately at the location where they terminate you; or
  • If you quit without notice and without a request for your employer to mail your final payment, your employer must provide your payment at its office within the county where you worked.

An employer may utilize direct deposit to deliver your last paycheck only if you authorize final payment by direct deposit. 

What to Do If Your Employer Unlawfully Withholds Your Final Payment

Employers that violate California laws regarding final paychecks are subject to “waiting time penalties.”

You are entitled to your final pay and a penalty payment that equals your daily rate of pay for each day you are denied your final paycheck for up to 30 days. 

Your employer can defend itself against penalties by proving there is a good faith dispute regarding what wages are due.

But remember that even if there is a wage dispute regarding your last paycheck, your employer is not allowed to withhold any amount of final wages not in dispute. 

To enforce your right to your final wages, you can file a lawsuit or a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner.

You have up to three years to file a complaint. It’s best to enlist the help of an experienced wage and hour attorney to handle a wage complaint successfully and timely.

Workplace Rights Law Group Can Ensure You Receive What You Are Owed

Asking for payment after an employment relationship has ended can be an intimidating task, but you deserve compensation for every minute of labor you have given to your employer.

With 75 combined years of employment law experience, the wage and hour attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group can fight for the wages you deserve.

We are passionate about protecting employees from employer misconduct, and we have won significant awards for employees across California.

Talk to us if you need a good advocate. You can contact us online or call us at 818-237-4116 for a free case review. 


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