Final Paychecks – When Are They Due? (2022)

Paycheck A question I hear a lot is: “I just left my job, when is my employer supposed to pay me my last paycheck?” The answer is: it depends.

If you were fired or laid off

If the employer ended your employment — fired you, laid you off, eliminated your position, etc. — they must have your final paycheck ready for you on your last day of work.

If you quit – without notice

If you ended your employment — you resigned or you quit — without notice, then the employer must have the check ready for you within 72 hours AFTER your last day of work.

If you quit – with notice

But if you quit AND if you gave at least 3 days advance notice to your employer of when your last day of work will be, then the employer must have your final paycheck ready for you on your last day.

Some additional things to keep in mind about final paychecks

  1. The final paycheck must include pay for all hours you have worked, including any overtime and double time. It must also include payment of any unused vacation hours or PTO. Note, you are NOT entitled to be paid for any unused paid sick hours unless the employer’s policies or agreements with you say otherwise.
  2. The employer cannot make you wait until the next payday to give you your last check.
  3. The employer cannot attach any strings to your last check. For instance, the employer cannot hold back your check unless you agree to sign a bunch of papers, or unless you first turn in your keys and uniform, or unless you pay back the loan they gave you, or unless you pay for the damage you did to the company vehicle, or unless you first talk to the company’s lawyers, etc.
  4. If you ask the employer to mail the last paycheck to you at your home address, the employer must comply. They cannot force you to come to the office to come pick up your final check if you do not want to.

If your employer fails to give you your final paycheck on time

If your employer does not comply with the above, then they are the hook to pay you a penalty for each day they don’t pay you all of your final wages, up to a maximum of 30 days of your average daily pay. See California Labor Code Section 201 and Section 203. For most people, that ends up being 1.5 months of pay! The employer does have certain legal defenses to these penalties, but they are narrow and can be difficult to establish.

Above all, keep in mind, your final paycheck has special status under the law. If your employer has not given you your last paycheck on time, 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.

321 Comments

  1. Dorothy on August 9, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    I was told on a Friday afternoon (Jul 15) that I was terminated, effective in two weeks. I told my employer the following Friday(Jul 22) that I would not be returning for the final week. A check was mailed to me the following week (dated the Monday after my last day, Jul 25). I deposited the check in a bank ATM on Jul 29, and was informed on Aug 9 that the check was refused for insufficient funds. My bank also stated that there would be a $20 bank fee related to the bounced check. What is my best recourse here? What am I entitled to under the law?

  2. Lilly on July 29, 2022 at 10:17 pm

    I had put in my two weeks and on my last day working there I was scheduled to work only 5 hours? Like what someone please tell me there isn’t a limit of hours you can work on ur last day of putting ur two weeks in! 😬😒

  3. Taylor pena on July 28, 2022 at 7:03 am

    I informed my boss 06/22/22 would be my last day I gave her a week notice, I was told I would receive my check Wednesday 06/26/22 now I’m being told I have to wait until Friday for payroll to send out all the checks. I’m so irritated now because I can’t get anything I need I’m order to start my new teaching job.

  4. Elsie Johnson on July 8, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    I quit my job for favortism and unfair treatment due to my supervisor hired her friend and gave her friend a favorable job position than mind. i quit on 06/25/2021 and payday was on Friday the 07/01/2021. I asked if they could please mail my check and they stated yes but i have not got my check yet. So i called today and Ruby in the business office stated that i could not recieve my check until i spoke with my supervisor

    • Eugene Lee on July 25, 2022 at 10:31 pm

      If you quit without advance notice, the employer must provide you with your last check within 72 hours after your last day. The employer does NOT have the right to withhold your last check or require you to do or sign anything in order to get your last check. It sounds like your employer is already in violation of the law.

  5. Senia on June 30, 2022 at 12:50 am

    Been 2 month after leaving my former employer and I gave a week noticed of my termination with the company. I’ve got a call about my last check, but it’s inaccurate they aren’t paying me my earned vacation time, been there for 8.5yrs. I’m well over the accrue mark. I mentioned this to them and HR was hesitant to give me payrolls number. Still haven’t received last check. It’s been about two month just five days ago I got the call.

    • Eugene Lee on July 25, 2022 at 10:35 pm

      Your employer has violated the last check laws. You should consider filing a wage claim. We’d be happy to assist with that. You can call us at 213-992-3299.

  6. Stacie Gladd on June 27, 2022 at 10:05 am

    i had an employee quit via e-mail on Sunday, i didn’t get the e-mail till Monday morning, when does the 72 hour start when you are Mon-Fri office

    • Eugene Lee on July 25, 2022 at 10:37 pm

      I think you’d have a very good argument that the 72 hours starts on Monday, not Sunday, when you were closed. But remember, the employer gets 72 additional hours only if the employee quit WITHOUT notice. If they quit and gave at least 72 hours of advance notice, then the last check would be due on Monday, not 72 hours later.

  7. Mia on June 19, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    I worked at a really high capacity restaurant. I was hired on as a server but once I got into the restaurant and left my previous place of employment they made me a food runner and refused to switch me. Then they offered me a 90 to 120 day trial to possibly get up to the point of server but even then it wasn’t guaranteed. I didn’t feel this was fair because I was hired on as a server and they financially displaced me from my previous place of employment. I went in today to go pick up my final check and they still didn’t have it ready. I was terminated on the spot on May 23 due to me bringing up my concerns with me food running. It is now June and they didn’t have it today. I’m not really sure what I should do because it’s been almost a month now.
    I was told that I was going to get the payment at a later date. But to much of my confusion when I went into go get it not too long ago they said they didn’t even have a check for me. So I am just confused as to what should I do at this point and what should be my next steps

  8. Valaerie on June 17, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    I was fired at the end of my shift on (6/10) and was told to pick up my check today (6/17) but they said to come back on (06/20) because it wasn’t ready and I just said “ok” but I am owed more due to the Waiting Time Penalty?

  9. Nikki on June 4, 2022 at 8:24 am

    I quit without 72 hours notice on 5/17. I still haven’t been paid my final check which was due to be paid 5/31 (state employee). Now HR says it’s on their desk and they’ll release it when they receive the keys back. If I formally request it to be mailed, they must comply or pay the penalty, correct?

    • Eugene Lee on June 9, 2022 at 9:47 pm

      Unfortunately, most government employers in California are exempted from late last check penalties, otherwise known as waiting time penalties.

      • Amy on July 1, 2022 at 8:10 am

        I resigned and gave 2 weeks notice, I communicated with the owner (the 70+employee company has no HR) the day before my final day to make sure everything was in order for my final check. No paycheck on my last day. I got a direct deposit today (scheduled payday) for the normal 2 week period. Does not include my final week or banked PTO. Reached out to the owner who said Tuesday I could come pick it up. I requested it be mailed, she declined. It’s an hour from my home.
        I sent her the labor law codes on this and she said she has 72 working hours after my last day and it’s a 4 day weekend.

        • Eugene Lee on July 25, 2022 at 10:35 pm

          If you resigned and gave 2 weeks notice, then the last check was supposed to be delivered to you on your last day worked, NOT 72 hours later. The employer gets an additional 72 hours ONLY if you quit without 72 hours of notice. But here, you gave 2 weeks notice. Your employer was supposed to mail the check to you if you requested it. The employer is in violation of several laws here.

        • WP on August 8, 2022 at 3:33 pm

          I was offered a position as a delivery associate for one of the companies contracted with Amazon that delivers their packages. Passed all the tests, background, drug lab, motor vehicle do records search. Started my drivers training class at the Amazon Facility by Amazon employees and I thought it was fine. Although I fell asleep in the class a couple times on the first day. No problem, I mean the info was boring and I tried to stay awake, honestly. I kept a good attitude through it. It’s just a formality before I get to start the job I was hired for. Small/big details: this was a PAID training, and I was participating in this training without having completed any new hire/I-9 paperwork at all. I have documentation that I am an employee (Documentation of correspondence from employer/ Paid Training Invitation. Vest, employee badge) One of the instructors saw me dozing off, never gave me a chance to explain why or if she could help me with anything. She basically told me to leave the grounds and find another employer. That upon review, she canning me because I should be farther along than I am in the curriculum. Behind in watching videos, really? Anyways I kept a good attitude and didn’t Become argumentative with her because she humiliated me by verbally dismissed me and threw me off the campus and told me to find another employer. She doesn’t have the authority or the right to do and say such things about working for this company. My compensation for at least my two days of paid training were not provided or offered. Anything said and done on the campus is documented by Amazon eyes and ears everywhere site monitoring. Meanwhile, the owner of the company who hired me has gone silent, when I expressed my desire to bring a grievance for not being afforded “due process” regarding her unceremoniously marching me off campus for dozing in class. Basically using language and actions that convey the message that I am no longer to work there nor am I welcome there, instructing me to go find another company to work for. (Her Words). Please tell me that this legal and well within her rights to treat me like this, send me on my way with no pay.

  10. Christopher on May 26, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    My employer scheduled me on my scheduled day off. That is part of my availability. I worked at a restaurant. I agreed to work only in national holidays should it fall on my scheduled day off. As a favor. Mother’s Day came, Mother’s Day is not a national holiday. They scheduled me to work and I informed them that that is not part of my availability. They said if I don’t go in they will consider that my resignation. I informed them that I have kept my promise to work all national holidays. Mother’s Day is not a national holiday, I have other commitments on that day since it’s not a national holiday. And I couldn’t go in. I called to get my schedule for the week, and they informed me I’m not in the schedule anymore. I did not quit. I was let go. First, they haven’t sent my last paycheck even though I’ve asked them to mail it for the last 2 weeks. And second, I had to file for unemployment and I believe they’re informing EDD that I resigned. I was very clear with them in that day. I said, I am not quitting, you scheduled me against my availability, and I can not go in. If I don’t get scheduled then you have let me go. And that’s exactly how that happened. Now EDD says I am be ineligible because it was considered a resignation.. what should I do? And still no check in the mail.

    • Eugene Lee on June 9, 2022 at 9:55 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that happened to you. First, it sounds like the employer owes you a late last check penalty, otherwise known as a waiting time penalty under Labor Code section 203. If such is the case, you need to file a wage claim. We’d be happy to discuss that with you. You can call us at 213-992-3299. Second, regarding the EDD UI denial, you should seriously consider appealing the decision as what you’ve described very much sounds like a termination, not a resignation. You will likely need to act fast as the deadline for UI appeal is very short.

  11. Jessica on May 12, 2022 at 2:34 pm

    I quit my job without 72 hr notice this Monday. I’m my resignation email I stated to let me know when the check was ready as I will pick it up along with my sales license. It is now Thursday, over 72 hrs and no one replied to my resignation email or let me know the check is ready. I texted someone who works there in business office she said the check was mailed certified yesterday, Wednesday. I won’t receive it for another 1-5 business days. No one communicated it was ready as I stated I’d pick it up, instead they mailed it and let
    Me know the breakdown of my
    Hours and commissions were not included (part of why I resigned is they were fraudulently adjusting my clock in/out without my knowledge). Am I able to request a difference check if for some reason there is a discrepancy on the check they supposedly mailed?

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