California Waiting Time Penalty Calculator (2024)

Last PaycheckWhen your employment ends (whether by termination, layoff or resignation), the law requires that your employer give you your last paycheck in full (including any accrued but unpaid vacation pay). Employers cannot withhold your last check in order to get you to sign any forms, return any company property or repay any loans or paycheck advances. If you do not get your last paycheck on time, you could be entitled to so-called "waiting time penalties" from your employer. This is true for all employees, including hourly non-exempt workers as well as salaried exempt workers.

Below is a calculator that estimates how much that penalty will be:


Select one of the following:

Last Day of Work:
Date Last Check Received (leave blank if you didn't):
Last Payrate($):
Estimated number of hours worked per day:

(The page will refresh after you press "calculate". Scroll down to see results in blue text.)

Legal Basis for Waiting Time Penalties

The waiting time penalty is grounded in California Labor Code Sections 201-203. These sections establish the rules for when final wages are due, depending on the circumstances of your departure:

  • Section 201: If you're fired or laid off, your employer must give you your final paycheck immediately.
  • Section 202: If you resign and give at least 72 hours of notice, you're also entitled to receive your final paycheck on your last day. Otherwise, your employer has 72 hours to pay you.
  • Section 203: This establishes your right to be paid a waiting time penalty. It states that for every day your employer is late in paying your final wages, you're entitled to a full day's wages, up to a maximum of 30 days.

How to Calculate Waiting Time Penalties

Calculating the penalty might seem daunting, but it's actually not too difficult. Here's how to do it:

  1. Determine Your Daily Wage: Take your hourly wage and multiply it by the typical number of hours you work in a day. For example, if you earn $15 an hour and work 8 hours a day, your daily wage would be $120 ($15 x 8). If you are a non-exempt worker and you work over 8 hours a day, don't forget to add overtime. Likewise, if you work over 12 hours a day, add doubletime.
  2. Count the Days of Delay: Calculate the number of days from when your final paycheck was due to when you actually received it. Weekends and holidays are included in the count, as the law considers every day of delay, not just business days.
  3. Calculate the Penalty: Multiply your daily wage by the number of days late, up to 30 days. Using the example above, if your employer was 10 days late, the penalty would be $1,200 ($120 x 10).

Some Additional Points to Consider

  • You are owed the penalty even if just $1 in final wages is paid late to you (or not paid at all).
  • The penalty applies regardless of whether you quit or were fired.
  • You have to prove that your employer "willfully" delayed your last check. However, in the context of section 203, "willfull" basically means non-accidental, not malicious.


If you find yourself in a situation where your final paycheck is delayed, California's labor laws are on your side. The waiting time penalty is designed to ensure that employers promptly hand over your last check. Consider filing a labor board complaint. Also, consider talking things over with a lawyer as there could be more penalties that apply to your situation.


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