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Final Paychecks: Delays = Penalties

(posted: February 11th, 2019)

Final paycheck

In California, a delayed final paycheck can result in employer penalties. California law gives employers only a short time to give employees their final paycheck after they quit or are fired. If an employer misses the deadline, the employee is entitled to a waiting time penalty of one day's pay for each day the employer is late, up to 30 days.

An employee who is fired (or laid off) is entitled to a final paycheck immediately, meaning at the time of termination or layoff.

The rules are different when the employee quits. If an employee quits without giving advance notice, the employer must provide the final paycheck within 72 hours. However, if an employee quits and gives at least 72 hours' notice, the employee is entited to the final paycheck immediately, meaning on his or his last day.

In one example of the courts' stance, a final paycheck was delivered on time, but it contained an $80 discrepancy between the numeric amount and the amount spelled out so it couldn't be deposited. The employer wouldn't issue a new check until the worker returned the check. The California Court of Appeal found the error wasn't intentional but, due to the delay, the worker was granted "waiting time penalties."

Note that California employees are also entitled to all of their unused vacation or PTO as part of their final pay on termination.

Make sure that your final paychecks are accurate and delivered on time to avoid penalties!

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