how long does an employer have to pay you after termination in California

Under California law, all employers have a legal obligation to pay their employees their final paycheck. The final paycheck consists of the entire amount of wages earned since the last paycheck.

How long you must wait for your final paycheck depends on whether your employer terminated your position or you voluntarily quit. As a California employee, you have rights regarding any delays or failure to provide your final paycheck. 

If My Employer Terminated My Position

If you were terminated in California, your employer is obligated to pay you immediately upon termination. The wages included in this final paycheck include all unearned wages to date. This final paycheck obligation exists even for part-time, short-term, temporary, and exempt employees. 

If I Quit 

If you quit your job, receipt of your final paycheck depends on the length of notice provided to your employer. If you quit and provide at least 72 hours’ notice, your employer must provide your final paycheck on your last day. Different requirements exist if you fail to provide notice of leaving your job. In this case, your employer must pay within the next 72 hours. 

Form of Payment

California termination pay must include all the hours you worked. Termination pay includes overtime and double time. The final paycheck must also include any unused paid time off (PTO). Unused sick pay is not guaranteed in your last paycheck. It’s important to check your employment agreement or review company policy to determine entitlement to these proceeds. 

Your former employer cannot conditionally hold your paycheck for any reason. For example, your former employer may not require you to sign a nondisclosure agreement before providing you your final paycheck.  

Perhaps your employment agreement provides that you are not entitled to take vacation time until you have been employed for a year. Despite this, accrued vacation must be paid. Calculating the proportion of time the employee worked before the employment ended determines unpaid vacation.

If you ask your employer to mail you your final paycheck, they must comply. They may not require you to pick up your paycheck in person.

Penalties for Late Paychecks

Subject to the above conditions regarding termination and quitting, California labor laws provide that employers must not make you wait for a paycheck. Furthermore, your employer may be subject to penalties for the delay. 

If your employer withholds your paycheck, they must pay a daily penalty called the “waiting time penalty.” The waiting time penalty depends on the employee’s daily rate of pay. The daily rate of pay is typically calculated by adding base wages, commissions, bonuses, and vacation pay that the employee earns in a year, dividing that sum by 52 weeks, and dividing that by 5 days.

The penalty continues for a maximum period of 30 days. After thirty days, the penalty ceases. At that point, if your former employer still doesn’t provide payment, you should consider bringing a lawsuit against the employer for unpaid wages. 

Contact Us 

California’s final paycheck laws limit the time you can bring a claim against your former employer. If you’ve recently quit or been laid off from your job and received your paycheck late or have not received your paycheck under California laws, contact us at Workplace Rights Law Group.

We spent most of our careers representing employers, so we know how to effectively represent employees in workplace rights lawsuits. We’ve been in the shoes of the client on the other side and know what to expect. Every one of our clients receives individual attention because we understand that the facts of your case are unique.

We never compromise our standards or values. Our team possesses nearly 75 years of collective legal experience. We have recovered millions for employees suffering from workplace injustice, including unfair pay practices. 

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