Final Paychecks – When Are They Due? (2021)

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.


  1. Jade on August 3, 2018 at 4:08 pm


    My employer laid me off and told me
    I would get paid for my time worked via direct deposit the following day. I was paid for two weeks prior but not the current week (I WAS LAID OFF ON A THURSDAY- the new pay period began the previous Sunday). Additionally, there are also outstanding expenses that i submitted weeks ago that have yet to arrive. Must an employer pay all past due expenses as well when they fire an employee? I would love to discuss my circumstances further.

    • Eugene Lee on August 4, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      Yes. The California Court of Appeals has ruled that reimbursements for uniform expenses are a form of “wages”. In re Work Unif. Cases, 133 Cal. App. 4th 328, 338, 34 Cal. Rptr. 3d 635, 642 (2005). Labor Code section 201-203 requires that all “wages” be paid on the last day (or within 72 hours if employee quits without notice). So in your case, your employer’s failure to reimburse you all expenses entitles you to waiting time penalties. We’d love to discuss this with you too! Give us a call at (213) 992-3299.

      • Jade on August 6, 2018 at 5:22 pm

        Thank you for your immediate reply. I have left a message for you and would like to discuss further as my former employer DID NOT pay my final check on the day they terminated my employment. Instead, they paid a day later and are contending that they do not owe anything. I have written documentation to support all matters above.

        • Eugene Lee on August 7, 2018 at 11:24 pm

          Ok, if no one from my office gets back to you, please feel free to come back here and leave another comment, as I do check daily.

    • Beverly Duncan on April 27, 2021 at 4:02 pm

      Question, are school employees exempt from code 202, my employer states they dont have to pay me until payday

  2. Heather on August 3, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I quit my job 2 weeks ago and gave then same day notice, as in- today is my last day. I have not received my final check, yet I haven’t reached out to them as I didn’t know until right now of these rights so I assumed I would just receive my direct deposit on regular payday. Today is payday and my direct deposit isn’t there either. If my check has been waiting for me and they never notified me, am I eligible for the waiting period penalty?

    • Eugene Lee on August 4, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      You should immediately send them an email, text, or a letter (keep a copy), asking them to mail your last check to your home address (spell out the address). Give them a chance to explain why the payment is late. However, I think you have a strong case for waiting time penalties, because the employer should’ve gotten you your check 72 hours after your last day (since you quit on the spot without notice). Give us a call at (213) 992-3299 if you’d like to discuss this.

    • Gabriel Velasquez on June 24, 2020 at 2:16 pm

      I work for third party company for Amazon. I gave a two week notice and my final day of employment was June 19. As stated by my resignation letter. It is now June 24th And have contacted HR via email about why I have not received my final check if it has been more than the 72 hrs given to an employer to pay me. She claims that she isn’t liable for my check and how long it takes for it to be mailed to me since she has already sent it off via USPS and it is out of her hands. Is she obligated to still pay the penalty or is what she is saying correct and truthful? Please advise

  3. Pablo L flores on July 25, 2018 at 12:24 am

    I was fired on 07/24/2018 after I worked 16hr shift for company. Asked why my name wasn’t on this week list anymore boss said cause I been fired..My name was on list for Tuesday shift that’s why I worked and if boss knew he was firing me then why put me a schedule. They didn’t give me my final check either.

    • Eugene Lee on August 2, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      I think there is no question you must be paid for the 16 hr shift on 7/24/18, so long as the employer knew or should’ve known you were working that shift. Since you didn’t receive your final check on 7/24/18, you would be entitled not only to the pay for that shift, but also waiting time penalties. Give us a call at (213) 992-3299 if you’d like to discuss this.

  4. Amber on July 14, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    I quit my job and my last day of work was on June 26th 2018. The employer sends an email to me stating my final pay check is available in the office along with required documents to sign. I did not respond to the email. I then receive a letter in the mail from the employer stating the same information that was in the email on July 10th 2018. No paycheck, only a letter. I still did not respond to that either. My question is, since they terminated my direct deposit, are they only legally obligated to tell me the final paycheck is at the office, or are they responsible for making sure I receive it either by direct deposit or by in the mail? I am not going in that office nor am I going to sign anything. I just want to know the proper steps I need to take to handle this matter. Also If I am able to file a wage claim and or labor board complaint, what date would it start on?

    • Eugene Lee on August 2, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Several things:
      First. you aren’t required to sign a thing in order to get your last check. The last check is your property, and the employer isn’t allowed to put conditions on your getting it.

      Second, if the check was given to you on your last day, the employer should immediately mail the check to you. If you still haven’t received the check, send them a text/email/letter (that you can prove the employer received), asking them to mail your last check to your home address (make sure you spell out your home address). I would advise against going into the office to get the check, because the employer could have all sorts of traps and tricks up its sleeve once you walk in.

      Third, you can file a labor board claim right now. I believe the employer is already on the hook for your last check plus waiting time penalties. Or course, they can, and will, argue all sorts of defenses.

      If you’d like to discuss the above, give us a call at (213) 992-3299.

    • Roxanne David on June 12, 2020 at 7:57 am

      Hi, I gave my employer my resignation letter with 2 weeks notice. My letter stated that I wanted any documents from them to be mailed to my home. Well, my last day should have been on 5/20/20 but I was hospitalized from 5/17-5/20. I have not returned to my job nor was I ever told I’d have to pick up my last paycheck. I’m on several meds now and am too tired to go there (my job was 35 miles away) I don’t feel like answering questions about my hospital stay either. Do I need to call and tell them to mail it to me or should they have mailed it to me since I was in the hospital?

  5. R. DLRB on July 13, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    My boss fired me today and cussed me out via text. I was falsely arrested last Thursday and released Tuesday. On Wednesday morning I asked if I still had a job. He said yes and changed my hours which I was fine with. Today, Friday, he fired me. He has fired me on several occasions with claims that he knows are not valid. I work for a tow company and for “punishment” for getting fired the other times I had to “volunteer” taking over the lines all weekend and weekdays at night for months at a time and taking his personal laptop home as well so I could monitor not only our drivers and yard but our 2 other sister companies for free. I went back to work late December 2017 and this continued until my last day. I also received a raise in February and just noticed I wasn’t getting paid the right amount. Brought it to the Attention and he said that payroll was going to be working on my compensation to pay me back what they owed me now that I’m fired they still owe me that money correct? And should they have not given me my last paycheck today considering this all happened early attention and he said that payroll was going to be working on my compensation to pay me back what they owed me now that I’m fired they still owe me that money correct? And should they have not given me my last paycheck today considering this all happened earlier in the day?

    • Eugene Lee on August 2, 2018 at 1:25 pm

      If they promised you a raise (and you can prove it), then yes, they are on the hook for unpaid wages going back to when the raise should’ve kicked in. Also, if you were asked to work off-the-clock, without pay, that is illegal and the employer is on the hook to pay you for those hours. If you were working for “sister companies”, those companies could very well become “joint employers”, which means you can name of all them as defendants in a lawsuit. Your last paycheck is due on the day of termination. You have a pretty complicated situation. Feel free to give us a call at (213) 992-3299 if you want to discuss it.

  6. Nicole Keillor on June 14, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    I was currently suspended from my job as a CNA because of supposedly I was talking about my life inside of work which is not true because I take my job serious and home life is home and work is work and then I was sent home and told not to work the next day then I had a text message from that scheduler saying I will get a call from the payroll lady which does not make sense because the ministrator and the DSE get me home hey lady had no idea what was going on well then the next day of that text message I got a phone call payroll lady saying I need to as soon as I can and sooner is the better she told me so I went there and I told her because she was out of town as the time I got suspended and she said I have no clue what has happened but this is what I was told to do I’m sorry and she said that she was told that I was written up the same day I got suspended and I went out and told somebody that I written up but the day that I got suspended it wasn’t even about that I was told I was talking about my life and they had to do an investigation to see what was really going on so I got two different stories doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever but I was giving my last paycheck but I went to cash it and it wouldn’t go through so I have to wait to cash it on their payday which is on the 25th and I got fired on 14 of June so what is my right because this is driving me nuts can you please help me figure this out

    • Eugene Lee on August 2, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      First, you can’t be disciplined for engaging in legal activity outside of work. If that’s what you got disciplined for, that’s not proper. Second, if your check bounced (rejected for “non-sufficient funds” or “NSF”), then you are entitled to penalties. Third, if you weren’t paid all wages in full on your last day, then you are entitled to waiting time penalties. Feel free to give us a call at (213) 992-3299 and we’d be happy to discuss it with you.

  7. Daisy on June 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I am currently working at a gas station and they are giving me 10 to 12 hour shifts when I work days I get a only 30 minute break but when I work graveyard I don’t.
    I try to quit on the spot n they said that I couldn’t cuz they didn’t have anyone else to work.
    I am so stress out don’t know what to do.
    Don’t know if they can do something to me for just not showing up.
    I am not a person to just quit n not show up but it’s too many hours n only get paid $10.50 hr with sometimes only a 30 minute break.
    What can you do

    • Milloe on June 10, 2018 at 12:28 am

      Put in a 2 week notice. Say my last day to work is june ___ 2018. Thats enough time for them to find some one. I work ampm and they are pissing me off.

    • Gabriela on June 27, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Under Labor laws, you are required to take your breaks. If your employer is not giving them to you they owe you a “missed meal” (Meal Premium) for every lunch and break not taken. California is an At-Will employment state. You can quit at any time without notice and you can be fired at anytime.

    • Eugene Lee on August 2, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      It sounds like there are a lot of laws being broken by your employer. As others pointed out, you have the right to quit your job as California is an at-will employment state. Slavery isn’t legal here. A two-weeks notice is courteous, but definitely not required under the law. Also, if work over 10 hours, you are entitled to: TWO 30-minute meal breaks (unpaid) and THREE 10-minute rest breaks (paid). Finally, you are supposed to receive overtime at $15.75 per hour for hours worked past 8 hours in a day, or past 40 hours in a week, or on the seventh consecutive day worked. As you have a somewhat complicated situation, feel free to give us a call at (213) 992-3299 and we’d be happy to go over it all with you.

  8. Diana ochoa on May 28, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I was fired may 18,2018 and their reasoning was so unfair and didn’t even have a correct explanation as to why. I am currently 6 mo. pregnant so I strongly believe it was because of this. They told me they “had 3 days to give me my check” after I told them I wanted it deposited that day since they did direct deposit. Also they said since I had the store keys they can’t give me my check… I agreed to meet the DM at a store location and 3 hours later he tells me to meet him at another store 20 miles out and I said no we agreed on this location. He refused saying the only day he could do it was that day (may 22) since he was going “out of town”. I told him I’ll see u at the location we agreed on tomorrow like we had said and no reply back. It is now may 28 and I still have not heard from them.

    • Eugene Lee on August 2, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      You should have received your last check on 5/18/18. At this point, you should text or email him to mail your last check to your home address (spell out your home address). Remember, just because you have the keys, they can’t require you to hand the keys over in order to give you your last check. They aren’t allowed to put conditions on your last check like that. You are already entitled to waiting time penalties. You should consider filing a labor board complaint.

      If you feel you were targeted because of your pregnancy, that is illegal pregnancy discrimination. Feel free to give us a call to discuss this at (213) 992-3299.

  9. Brian on May 25, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    I worked as a server at this restaurant, and the manager started cutting my hours to only 1 day a week without any explanation in advance and didn’t give me clear answers even after asking questions. After 3 consecutive weeks of this hassle, I decided to quit without any notice. I quitted on the spot (after finishing my shift for that day) and requested my last check to be mailed to my desired address. I sent him a message once more with confirming that I quitted today with the address info. He read it and never responded. it’s been 2 weeks since then and I still haven’t received my check. What can I do?

    • amerry on July 4, 2018 at 9:41 am

      File a complaint. They are required to pay you in full within 72 hours.

  10. Sean on May 24, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    I gave my 2 weeks notice to my employer, and tomorrow is my last day. My employer apparently do not have my final paycheck ready. They said since they do not know if I am going to report to work on my last day tomorrow, they could not order my last paycheck to be issued on my last day. Instead, they asked me to sign a paper that I consent I will wait for a few days until my last pay will be direct deposited to my bank account.

    What my employer is doing is legal? Even if I signed the paper?

    • Eugene Lee on August 2, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      No that’s not legal. Don’t sign the paper. Either they have your last check ready for you tomorrow or they don’t. If not, you will be entitled to waiting time penalties. You should then file a labor board complaint.

  11. Isabella on May 20, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    So back in July of last year, I had a coworker make a false claim towards me opening an investigation which ended with me just quitting due to the stress they were putting on me to admit to something I didn’t do. So my last day of work was 7/03 and I quit 7/05, the HR reached out to me to guide me through resignation process and then emailed saying me I’d be getting my final check in the form I desired. I emailed back saying I’d like to get it direct deposited or mailed. And I got an email from the other person in HR saying my check was available at their location. They then would not answer any of my emails or calls, nor call or email me back. Since the location is almost an hour away and I knew my check wouldn’t be much, I didn’t bother going in. I just hoped they’d eventually mail it. But I never received it.

    • Eugene Lee on May 23, 2018 at 10:51 pm

      That is a violation of law – you requested they mail the check to you and they didn’t. You should go ahead and file a labor board complaint to claim the 30-days waiting time penalties that are owed to you.

  12. Jim on May 18, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Thur. 04/19 my supervisor came in and asked me for the store keys, told me to leave and that I was not allowed in the store or to talk to any employees and that he would call and let me know what was going on.
    Fri. 04/27 he calls and asks for me to meet him at a different store. Once there he explains that I have been terminated for something that happened on 04/13 and on the second Sat. in Dec. and that my check would be available after 7:00 PM. My pay was direct deposited that day (04/27) and my PTO was given to me Sun. 04/29.
    The opening for my job was posted online Thur. 04/19.

    • Eugene Lee on May 23, 2018 at 10:53 pm

      I assume you’re asking if there is a last check violation. The answer is: there is. You may also have a reporting time pay violation, since you were called to work on 4/27 then discharged. You should file a labor board complaint.

      • Ruben Hullum on May 24, 2018 at 12:33 am

        I last worked on 5-13-18 and was let go because there were no other sites available and was told to turn in my uniform on 5-15-18 but haven’t received my last paycheck. On 5-23-18 I call the job to see if my final check was there on but it still havent arrived what should I do

        • Eugene Lee on May 24, 2018 at 12:38 am

          You should file a labor board complaint and make a claim for your waiting time penalties.

          • Ruben Hullum on May 24, 2018 at 12:42 am

            How do I make a claim for waiting time penalties

        • J on June 20, 2020 at 9:03 pm

          I resigned on 6/15/2020 and received a post dated check on 6/20/2020 via certified mail. The check is dated 6/26/2020, 11 days after my resignation. How should I proceed to collect money owed to me? Thank you.

  13. Bobby Shores on May 6, 2018 at 9:58 am

    I quit without giving a notice and it’s almost Monday and I never got a pay statement through our Adp app we use and it was never direct deposited like it usually is. My boss said he would mail it so come Friday I got he mail no check so he told me to come in on Friday and get it so I went in and my boss is on a trip for work so the cfo just gave me a personsl check but no pay stub and the hours I have and he has don’t add up right not really sure if I want to bring the labor board in I asked him if I could get a pay stub he said all employees get a check when they’re terminated and I know this is not to my self in my head and so he said to come in tomorrow Monday and ask Scott about it but I shouldn’t have to go in and talk to them about it I’d like them to review my hours and show me on paper because I have different numbers

    • Eugene Lee on May 23, 2018 at 10:55 pm

      Sounds like a last check violation to me. The penalty may not be much, it depends on how many days late they were in making the last check available to you. It’s up to you, but you could probably file a labor board complaint.

  14. Tay on May 6, 2018 at 9:56 am

    On Friday the 27th I gave my official resignation notice stating I would be done at my current job on Thursday October 10th, signed and dated by myself and my manager. Then on the following Monday I had to inform them my end date would actually be Sunday the 6th. So we amended the resignation letter and my manager scanned it and sent it to corporate. It’s now the 8th, I’m at work, and I asked about my final check and they said that I have to wait until the end of the pay period to receive my check. When I informed them of the CA labor laws about final checks they then offered to hand write me a check, which I declined. They’re now saying they have to wait until tomorrow when our HR reps are in the office. I told them if that is the case I will be expecting a daily penalty for every day that it’s late. How can I ensure that this process is followed and I get the check in the correct amount with daily penalties. Also, am I in the right with all of this?

    • Eugene Lee on May 23, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      I think you are in the right about this and are owed waiting time penalties. If your employer doesn’t pay you the penalties, your recourse would be to file a labor board complaint seeking an order against the employer to pay you the penalties owed.

  15. Irene on May 1, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I work for a Consulting company and I gave my two week notice on 4/26 and my employer calls the next day and stated that our client did not want to resume services with me (which I understand was not true), do they owe me my two weeks of pay since I was readily available to work? Also they deposited my final paycheck that only included pto and worked hours on 05/01 so do they owe one day of penalty for those hours? They have yet to reimburse me for reimbursable travel expenses.

    • Eugene Lee on May 23, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      No they don’t owe you two weeks of pay (assuming you don’t have a written contract or policy that says otherwise). Since California is an at-will employment state, your employer has the write to discharge you at any time for any reason (except illegal reasons like discrimination or retaliation). That is what your employer appears to have done here. Since they terminated you on 4/27/17 and paid your last check on 5/1/17 (assuming I’m reading your question correctly), then you are owed waiting time penalties of 4 days.

      As for expense reimbursement, a 2017 California Court of Appeal held that expense reimbursement DOES constitute “wages”. Therefore it is logical to assume that if an employer is late on reimbursing expenses, that would trigger the 30-day waiting time penalty.

      An excerpt from that decision:

      “The term “wages” includes not only an employee’s periodic monetary earnings but also other benefits to which the employee is entitled as part of compensation. (In re Work Uniform Cases (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 328, 337-338 [34 Cal.Rptr.3d 635] (Uniform Cases).) In Uniform Cases, the plaintiffs sought reimbursement under section 2802 for the cost of work uniforms. (Uniform Cases, at p. 332.) The Uniform Cases court concluded that “payment to employees for work uniforms is a part of the employees’ compensation and should be considered like any other payment of wages, compensation or benefits.” (Id. at p. 338.)”
      LILIANA ESPEJO v. THE COPLEY PRESS, INC. (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 329, 367

      Given the above, you should consider filing a labor board complaint if the employer doesn’t pay you waiting time penalties (up to the time you finally are reimbursed expenses, the maximum being 30 days).

  16. Andy on April 29, 2018 at 10:30 am

    If I go in on my last day but they decided to fire me
    as soon as I go in, are they supposed to pay me at least 4 hours for going in?

    • Eugene Lee on April 29, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      That depends. You are referring to something called “reporting time pay”. If you are sent home before you work at least half your scheduled shift, you are probably owed half of your scheduled shift pay (but no less than 2 hours and no more than 4 hours). You should consider filing a labor board complaint.

  17. O chavez on April 26, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    Hi I was terminated by my employer in a very rude way. The owner called me and said i was not productive to the company that was the cause for me not getting any work after working so hard and putting a lot of effort to the company. He let me know this 7 days after my last day of work and didn’t give me my las check. What should I do?

    • Eugene Lee on April 29, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      It sounds like you are entitled to last check penalties. Even if the amount you are owed is small, the last check penalty can be in the thousands. You should consider filing a labor board complaint.

  18. Mike T on April 25, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Worked at a branded auto dealership. Was terminated on 3/21/18. I am commissioned, but receive ‘draw’ paychecks twice per month. After calculating the entire month’s gross profit, which is what my pay is based on, I am provided a ‘wash’ check to total out my prior month’s earnings. ‘Wash’ checks for prior month’s earnings are normally provided on the 10th of the month. I was provided my last paycheck related to my ‘draw’ on 3/21/18, however I was told that they would have to wait to issue my last ‘wash’ check until the month was over in order to ‘pro-rate’ my commissions for the month. It is now 4/25/18 and they are issuing me my check. Are penalties owed to me? And, if so, how are they calculated – based on draw only or total compensation including commissions?

    • Eugene Lee on April 29, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      That really depends on what your written commission plan says. I recommend you get a copy of it from your employer and review it. The employer is contractually obligated to comply with its plan. If the “wash” check was late under terms of that plan, then you could make a claim for late last check penalties, in which case you should consider filing a labor board complaint.

  19. Me on April 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    I was hired thru a temp agency only worked two days! On day number 3 I showed up to work and was told by the company I was assigned to that they decided not to go with me and escorted out the building I asked for check they said I needed to contact temp agency so I did they said I had to wait for payday. I waited but still was not paid they finally paid me 55 days later. Their excuse they didnt have my time cards and didnt know I was owed money. In I owed waiting time penalties

  20. Rj Parpana on April 20, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Can you provide me with the actual article that states PTO must be paid out?

    • Eugene Lee on April 20, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      California Labor Code section 201:

      (a) If an employer discharges an employee, the wages earned and unpaid at the time of discharge are due and payable immediately.  An employer who lays off a group of employees by reason of the termination of seasonal employment in the curing, canning, or drying of any variety of perishable fruit, fish or vegetables, shall be deemed to have made immediate payment when the wages of said employees are paid within a reasonable time as necessary for computation and payment thereof;  provided, however, that the reasonable time shall not exceed 72 hours, and further provided that payment shall be made by mail to any employee who so requests and designates a mailing address therefor.

      (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the state employer shall be deemed to have made an immediate payment of wages under this section for any unused or accumulated vacation, annual leave, holiday leave, or time off to which the employee is entitled by reason of previous overtime work where compensating time off was given by the appointing power, provided, at least five workdays prior to his or her final day of employment, the employee submits a written election to his or her appointing power authorizing the state employer to tender payment for any or all leave to be contributed on a pretax basis to the employee’s account in a state-sponsored supplemental retirement plan as described under Sections 401(k), 403(b), or 457 of the Internal Revenue Code provided the plan allows those contributions.  The contribution shall be tendered for payment to the employee’s 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan account no later than 45 days after the employee’s discharge from employment.  Nothing in this section is intended to authorize contributions in excess of the annual deferral limits imposed under federal and state law or the provisions of the supplemental retirement plan itself.

      (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when the state employer discharges an employee, the employee may, at least five workdays prior to his or her final day of employment, submit a written election to his or her appointing power authorizing the state employer to defer into the next calendar year payment of any or all of the employee’s unused or accumulated vacation, annual leave, holiday leave, or time off to which the employee is entitled by reason of previous overtime work where compensating time off was given by the appointing power.  To qualify for the deferral of payment under this section, only that portion of leave that extends past the November pay period for state employees shall be deferred into the next calendar year.  An employee electing to defer payment into the next calendar year under this section may do any of the following:

      (1) Contribute the entire payment to his or her 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan account.

      (2) Contribute any portion of the deferred payment to his or her 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan account and receive cash payment for the remaining noncontributed unused leave.

      (3) Receive a lump-sum payment for all of the deferred unused leave as described above.

      Payments shall be tendered under this section no later than February 1 in the year following the employee’s last day of employment.  Nothing in this section is intended to authorize contributions in excess of the annual deferral limits imposed under federal and state law or the provisions of the supplemental retirement plan itself.


      California Labor Code section 227.3.
      Unless otherwise provided by a collective-bargaining agreement, whenever a contract of employment or employer policy provides for paid vacations, and an employee is terminated without having taken off his vested vacation time, all vested vacation shall be paid to him as wages at his final rate in accordance with such contract of employment or employer policy respecting eligibility or time served; provided, however, that an employment contract or employer policy shall not provide for forfeiture of vested vacation time upon termination. The Labor Commissioner or a designated representative, in the resolution of any dispute with regard to vested vacation time, shall apply the principles of equity and fairness.

  21. David on April 18, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Worked for a mortgage company that was based out of Texas. I worked in CA. I was a Branch Manager recieving salary plus commissions plus override commissions.

    My last day with this company (Friday, 3/16) was the same day I resigned. I recieved my final pay on Tuesday of the next week. It was more than 72 hours… are the responsible for any penalties?

    After speaking with HR, I was advised that I would recieve my last and final commission ( 4/15, override)check by the next month’s commission payment schedule, which is April 15th.

    I didn’t receive a direct deposit like I was told and I contacted HR. The HR rep said she would contact compensation dept. The HR rep (after guidance from comp dept) told me I was not entitled to the override commissions, as this specific company didn’t pay to terminated employees. Isn’t there something wrong? I firmly believe I am entitled to the override commission check…

    • Eugene Lee on April 20, 2018 at 4:10 am

      Hi David,

      As to your first question, yes they are on the hook for waiting time penalties of 1 day’s wages. The last check was due on Monday.

      As for you should receive your override commissions, that is going to depend on what is written in your employer’s commission plan. You would really need to review that plan to see if they are right. If they are wrong, then you would have a claim for more penalties and could then file a labor board complaint.

  22. Charles Keane on April 12, 2018 at 8:36 am

    My Wife was fired on Tuesday. How long does the employer have to pay Her?

    • Eugene Lee on April 12, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      She should have been given her last check on Tuesday. I suppose the employer could have mailed it out on Tuesday, so you might want to give it a few days to see if it comes in the mail. Otherwise, penalties would apply for late payment of the last check.

  23. Chris on April 10, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    I left autozone job about 4 years ago because of sickness didnot go pick up last check and still have not can i still clame last pay check
    If i worked for it 4 years ago?

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      I think you’re past the 3 year statute of limitations to file a claim on that last check. You could in theory file in civil court and allege “unfair competition” to get a 4 year statute of limitations, but for that, you would probably need an attorney. The statute of limitations exists to ensure people don’t sit on claims and let them linger.

  24. Mary Vanfleet on April 10, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I gave a 2 week notice of my intent to leave my position, but after one week things had deteriorated to a point I had to leave. My employer waited 7 days to pay me my final check. I asked for the “waiting period penalties” and he refused. Does the clock keep ticking for 30 days for the penalties or did it stop on the day I received my paycheck?

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      Since you left 1 week early, I think that would be treated as a quit without notice. In that case, the employer has 72 hours to give you your check. Since it took them 4 days longer than that to pay you your last check, I believe you can argue you are owed 4 days of waiting time penalties. Yes, the clock stopped when you received your last check.
      You should file a labor board complaint.

  25. Delia on March 12, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    I gave a whole month notice to my employer. My last day will be on 3/15/18 and I am being told that my check will be processed until 3/16/18 and probably wont hit my bank until 3/19/18. Am I entitled to those extra 2-4 days since I am still waiting on my check?

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      Yes. Since you gave notice of resignation, the employer was required to have the last check ready for you on your last day. You get 1 day of wages as a penalty for each day they are late, up to a maximum of 30 days. You should consider filing a labor board complaint.

  26. Monica perez on March 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I work for a dental office and my supervisor said i dont get paid we dont make any money and the Dr who they hired quite on us for the same reason and now I’ve been wating more time for my check she cut my hours and we are down but i keep working and no check what can I do im suppstue get payed 5 and 20

  27. Chris on March 7, 2018 at 2:21 am

    I was laid off/discharged from an out of state employer, due to my job being eliminated.

    I was handed a packet that is questionable to all ends.

    I’m on my last days of reading and reviewing all documents that coincide, contradict or impact my their offer and now I noticed my last check has deductions that are inconsistent with previous direct deposits. This is after the 10-day waiting period per my bank because the check was handwritten & unusual to them. My previous employer’s bank would not assist (3 calls over 2-days, my bank was hung-up on and sent to voicemail). My bank even contacted my employer but only received voicemail. So I incurred a couple overdraft fees that added to the long list of other items to jump on when lay offs happen.

    Now I would like to know if I should bother to address their last check with them during my response to their severance offer???

  28. James F on March 5, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Hi, I was let go on the Wednesday February 28, my contract ended. I revived my last pay check Friday March 2nd, The day I left had logged 32 hrs. of work, if I calculated this right should I get 40 hrs. or 48 hrs. I only received 32 hr., I am also entitled pay for the time I am waiting for wait time pay?

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      If your last check was short 8 or 16 hours, then the employer is on the hook for waiting time penalties for each day they fail to pay you the short hours, up to a maximum of 30 days. You should file a labor board complaint

  29. Ceci on March 3, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    I was let go because they stated “reconstruction of business” but they didn’t give me my bonus gift certificate for making goal the previous month. How long do they have until they have to give it to me.

  30. dalila on February 22, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Hi, can you tell me what the penalty fee is for each day you are not paid your final check? I resigned from a job and did not receive my final check until 1 1/2 weeks later.

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      waiting time penalties are calculated as:

      average number of hours worked per day
      multiplied by final hourly rate of pay
      multiplied by # of days late (up to a maximum of 30 days)

  31. Jan McAnelly on February 21, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    I was terminated on a Tues. They said they had my final check but never gave it to me. I waited until Saturday and still no check so filled out the complaint form. I finally got the check 10 days after I was terminated. The problem was they stamped it in the office postal machine on the day I was terminated. How can I prove I waited 10 days for a check. They sent it registered and I had to go to the PO to pick it up.

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      I think you would have to ask the US Postal Service that question, it really depends on how the mail was sent to you.

  32. Denise on February 20, 2018 at 11:05 am

    If my employer had me sign a employee handbook at the moment of hiring and three years later I have decided to give my 2 weeks notice but I have 8.4 days of vacation that was unused. When I asked if I would be getting my vacation paid, she pointed a page in the handbook that stated if our employment is terminated for any reason we forfeit the vacation or PTO benefits. Another page at the end of the handbook says “Team members who are discharged or who quit shall forfeit all benefits except for benefits required under federal and state laws”. Is that legal?

  33. Elizabeth on February 13, 2018 at 7:51 am

    IF an employee gives two weeks notice and then a day later, the employer tells the employee he doesn’t need to come back,is the employer required to pay the employee for the remainder of the two week’s notice?

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      No. That is a quit that got converted by the employer into a termination. However, the employer needs to have the last check ready on the last day in that situation.

  34. Gloria Lynch on February 12, 2018 at 2:47 am

    IF an employee gives two weeks notice and then a day later, the employer tells the employee he doesn’t need to come back,is the employer required to pay the employee for the remainder of the two week’s notice?

  35. Amie on January 26, 2018 at 10:52 am

    My son and his friend both worked at JC Penney as seasonal employees. At the end of the season, they were both laid off. Neither of them received their final check at the end of their last shift. My sons friend received his check via direct deposit 5 days later. My son received his check after several trips to the store and over a dozen calls to the payroll department 18 days later. We are requesting personnel files as Human Resources is stating that my son quit without 72 hours notice when in fact he was laid off. My suspicion is that they are claiming the same for his friend- hence the delay in payment of his final wages. Once we receive their personnel files and confirm our suspicions, we will reach out to as many other seasonal employees from that store as we can get find. As they would all be due waiting time penalties. If in fact the store management has falsified employment records by stating employees quit without notice- and also avoided paying employees immediately upon separation, should we file a complaint with the labor board? Seek an attorney?

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      Since the employer is playing games by claiming quit without notice, it sounds like you are in for a fight. You would be well advised to retain a lawyer to fight against the top notch defense law firm that JC Penney will no doubt throw at your son and his friend. Also, if the same thing happened to others, there may be a possible class action or PAGA representative action. For that, you will definitely need an attorney.

  36. Maryanne on January 24, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    I have a question
    I have been working for the YMCA for over 5 years. My last day is this Friday where I am to receive my final pay check. My question is: Can i get my sick hours of 52 hours on my final paycheck?

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      No, sick hours are not like vacation hours, which must be paid out at the end of employment. The employer is NOT required to pay out any sick pay balance.

  37. Sarah on January 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Are “personal holidays” considered PTO? My husband just gave his 2 week notice and his employer is saying they are not required to pay out personal days, only his accrued vacation time.

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 3:02 pm

      That really depends on how the employer has written their PTO policy. If PTO is separate and distinct from vacation time, then the employer is probably correct, they only need to pay out the vacation time at the end of employment, not the PTO.

  38. Don Snow on January 11, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    My employer’s accounting department is based on the East Coast. Paychecks are paid on Friday every week. We offer Direct Deposit. If the UPS cannot make the delivery of paper checks by Friday, is my employer on the hook for a days wages paid to each employee that their check isn’t given to them? Please let me know. This has happened multiple times, and the Manager says to the employees, you should get Direct Deposit so you know you will have your check on time. Can we enforce that rule or not? I don’t think we can and that’s why I’m asking. Thanks for your time

  39. Analiza romero on January 10, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    I was doing payroll and Human resources in a company. I was offered another position as Accounts payable and agreed to do both. Am I entitled to get extra or rate adjustment?

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      Not legally (unless you have a contract or there is a written policy or union agreement that says otherwise). You can of course negotiate and ask, but the employer typically has full discretion to set your pay and job duties.

  40. Lucia on January 5, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    My employer pays us every friday (it’s in the company book), today he did not pay us because he didn’t go in the office to sign the checks, now we have to wait till Monday to receive it. I am very upset because I was depending on my weekly check to pay bills and buy groceries since I’m living on a week to week check, this is not the first time he has done this, Iso he out of line? what can I legally do so it won’t keep occurring?

    • Eugene Lee on January 5, 2018 at 9:36 pm

      The employer is required to set a consistent pay day and stick to it. If that isn’t happening, you should consider filing a labor board claim.

  41. Paul on January 5, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    My position was eliminated effective Dec 15th, 2017. The company offered a severance package equivalent to 4.86 weeks of salary in a lump sum payment, but as of yet, I have not received that payment. The paperwork I received from them stated that I would receive the payment on the first pay date after the signed executed document was received, and all equipment was returned. Providing me a shipping address for the equipment took over 2 weeks to receive, and yet the still had the equipment before the pay date. Is the company responsible for timely delivery of severance pay just like final pay check?

    • Eugene Lee on January 5, 2018 at 9:40 pm

      In a way yes, but the law is different. For paychecks, the labor code controls the timing of payment. For severance payments, contract law controls the timing of payment. You need to look carefully at the severance agreement and see what it says about the timing of the payment. If you think the company has violated the severance agreement, then you need to look for an attorney to help you file a breach of contract claim.

  42. Betshavee luque on January 2, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Question: I worked for my original employer about 8 yrs. Before he sold the company. So now I have a new boss. Now the whole time I was there, I got paid holidays , 5 sick days and 5 vacation days. But now this new owner only gives u 3 sick days & only 2 vacation days. I mean really? Just 2 days. That’s like a weekend. Is there anyway that I can stay with the same days as my old owner had given me or can the new owner change it as he wishes? Not taking in consideration that I have been there so many years and it’s what I was used to.
    Also, I was recently terminated when I returned from my vacation. Now on my last pay stub it clearly shows that I have 52.53 vacation hours that I have accumulated throughout this last year. When I told my boss that I wanted all those hours paid because I earned them, he told me no I only get two vacation days. Is this true? And if so, then why does it show in my last pay stub that I have all those hours remaining? To me, they are earned wages that belong to me for all the hours I worked this past year. Please let me know if I have rights to those hours.

    • Eugene Lee on January 5, 2018 at 9:42 pm

      This is a fairly complicated situation, please give us a call at (213) 992-3299 and we can discuss it.

  43. Kelly on December 27, 2017 at 6:57 am

    My former employer laid me off right before christmas on 12/22 and made me sign a NDA in order to get $1600 paycheck on pay day. I left and realized that he should of had my check for me ready. I told him your violating california labor laws. He gives me my check on 12/26 and its only up til the day he laid me off.($400 less.of $1600 he said he would give) Am I entitled to any wait penalty or full $1600 if he made me sign a nda to get final check on my regular pay period even though he laid me off on 12/22 and didnt pay until 12/26 and was trying to wait until.12/29.?

    • Eugene Lee on December 31, 2017 at 7:24 am

      Kelly, by law, you aren’t required to sign anything to receive your paycheck. Once you’ve worked the hours, that paycheck is your property. So first word of advice, at your next job, don’t sign the NDA. Second, the answer to your question depends entirely on what you signed. Normally, you would be entitled to penalties under California labor laws. But if what you signed gave up your legal rights, a labor lawyer would need to review it carefully to see rights you have left.

  44. Bobbie on December 12, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Over the summer I took two trips and some of the time was requested as unpaid. The time was never docked from my salary. I did tell my manager that they had not docked my paycheck and he said he would look into it. I have now resigned and I am concerned that they will now try to go back and dock those days from my final check. Is that legal?

    • Eugene Lee on December 13, 2017 at 10:47 pm

      No. Employers can never “dock” paychecks at any time, let alone from your last paycheck, unless they have a signed written consent from you. The employer’s proper recourse is to file a small claims action (or civil suit if the amount is big enough) against you. You should examine your last paycheck carefully. If you find there are deductions on there that you did not consent to in writing, you should consider filing a labor board claim.

  45. Robin Olvera on December 11, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    My husband gave his verbal notice 3 weeks in advance to his company. His last day would be Dec 1. Before his last week they asked him if he could stay an extra week due to an employee who had a medical emergency. He then put in writing his notice as Dec 8 being his last day. They then did not need him for the extra week. He did not work that week either. On Dec 5th the employer asked him if he wanted his check mailed or sent. He said he would let them know. He then went in to pick up the check two days later and they had mailed his check which he never agreed to. It is now Dec 12, tomorrow, and he still has not received his final pay. Whether his final pay was calculated Dec 1 or Dec 8 they are not in compliance to the law correct? We are in California. They said it was sent registered mail. Still have not received it.

    • Eugene Lee on December 13, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      You are correct, the last check is late and your husband is owed for waiting time penalties. I think 12/8/17 will likely be deemed the last day worked and the day on which the employer should have either handed your husband his check, or your husband should have received the check in the mail. Since neither happened, penalties began to run from 12/8/17 until whenever your husband finally receives the check. Your husband should make a copy of the check when it finally comes, as well as the envelope it comes in. He should then file a labor board claim.

  46. Henry on December 9, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Company I work for was sold, new company came in and presented me with a new pay plan which is approximately 50% of my former rate. If I don’t sign, they say its constructive resignation.

    If I don’t sign it do they have to pay me up to last day worked according to my old signed pay plan?

    • Eugene Lee on December 9, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      There is no such thing as constructive resignation. If you don’t sign, and they don’t allow you to continue working, that is more likely to be deemed a termination.

      Unfortunately there is no way to answer your question about how much pay they owe without reviewing your current agreement and the specific facts of your situation.

  47. jane mitchell on November 29, 2017 at 7:36 am

    If the employers payrol office is out of state and the employee is paid hourly, does the employer still have to have the paycheck there for final day worked? Ex. I have an employee’s last day to work is Thursday, 11/30 and she is hourly? How can i possible issue the check if I am unsure of how many hours she will actually work?

    • Eugene Lee on December 1, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      If the employee is being terminated (or is quitting with at least 72 hours advance notice), then yes, the check has to be ready to give to the employee on their last day. Many employers write out the final check by hand. Of course you will need to anticipate the number of hours worked by the employee on their last day. You could look at the clock in time that day, then decide what the clock out time should be, calculate the hours expected to be owed for the day, then issue the check in that amount and have it ready to go at the clock out time. Some employers even add 1-2 hours in just to give themselves a safety margin.

      Most employers would benefit by consulting with an employer-side lawyer for 30 minutes or so. It won’t cost much and the headaches it saves will be priceless, and many times more than the consulting fee. Our firm doesn’t do that, but there are a ton of good employer-side lawyers out there.

  48. Abby on November 14, 2017 at 11:16 am

    If the employer’s headquarters are out of state and a check is overnighted for your last day of employment but the shipment is delayed through no fault of the employer, is that still considered delinquent or does that meet the good faith effort of trying to pay on the last day of employment?

    • Eugene Lee on November 14, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      I don’t think there would be a waiting time penalty if, like you said, it was not the fault of the employer.

  49. Linda a concern employee on November 13, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    If I have accumulated sick time on the books and I am asked to resign, can a company keep my sick time I have accumulated over the years if I do not resign? The company I work for will ask employees to resign, if they get fired they will lose all there sick time. Is this legal?

    • Eugene Lee on November 13, 2017 at 11:48 pm

      Accrued but unused sick days are NOT paid out at the end of employment like vacation or PTO. You do need to check your company policies to make sure your employer doesn’t combine paid sick days with vacation days or PTO. If they do, then paid sick days may need to be paid out after all. Whether you resign or are terminated does not affect your right to be paid for unpaid vacation or PTO, only the timing of when you must be paid (on your last day of work, or 72 hours later). An employer could CHOOSE to pay out unused paid sick days at the end of employment, but they aren’t legally required to do so. In that case, if they have a policy that takes it back if you resign, I suppose that would not be a violation. But I would have to review your employer’s policies to be sure.

  50. Jonathan on November 8, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Does this also “depend” on whether the company is privately-owned or a government entity?

    • Eugene Lee on November 8, 2017 at 10:35 am

      Jonathan, that is a very good point. Last check penalties do not apply to so-called public entities (i.e., government entities ) like the US Postal Service. Government entities enjoy many special immunities and protections. There is a specific California Labor Code section that addresses this: Section 220(b)

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