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.

309 Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

Leave a Comment