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Pay at Separation
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What Is Pay at Separation?

There are laws in place in California that dictate when an employee’s wages must be paid and how employers are required to handle distributing final paychecks to employees who have quit or been terminated. California law gives employers only a short amount of time to give employees their final paychecks after they quit or are fired, and if the employer fails to pay an employee earned wages during this time period, the employee is entitled to a waiting time penalty, in addition to the earned wages. Pay at separation is a hotly contested issue in California, and many employers find themselves faced with unpaid wage claims or lawsuits filed by employees who were not given their final paychecks in a timely manner. For more information about California unpaid wage claims or to speak to an experienced employment law attorney about pay at separation laws, contact Davtyan PLC today.

California Wage Payment Laws

California wage and hour laws are strict and there are special requirements in California for pay at separation, or the payment of wages to employees who have quit, retired, resigned or been fired. According to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office:

  • An employee who is discharged must be paid all wages he or she earned for work performed, as well as accrued vacation time, immediately at the time of termination (Labor Code § 201 and 227.3).
  • An employee without a written employment contract for a definitive period of time who gives at least 72 hours’ notice prior to quitting, and quits on the day given in the notice, must be paid all wages, including accrued vacation time, at the time of quitting (Labor Code § 202).
  • An employee without a written employment contract for a definitive period of time who quits without giving 72 hours’ notice must be paid all wages, including accrued vacation time, within 72 hours of quitting (Labor Code § 202).

Waiting Time Penalty for Unpaid Wages

California labor laws offer significant protections for employees across the state and provide legal recourse for employees whose employment rights are violated. Any employer in California who willfully fails to pay earned wages to an employee who has quit or been fired in the required time frame may face a waiting time penalty for unpaid wages. In California, the waiting time penalty is an amount equal to the employee’s regular daily rate of pay for each day the wages are unpaid, up to a maximum of 30 days. For example, if an employer fires an employee and waits two weeks before providing the employee’s final paycheck, the employer would be liable for 14 days of wages as a waiting time penalty. Even if the employer gives that fired employee his or her final paycheck on time, if the full amount of compensation due is not included in the paycheck, the employee may still be entitled to waiting time penalties for each day the employer fails to pay the remaining wages.

Our Employment Law Attorneys Can Help

It is against the law for your employer to keep your final paycheck from you, regardless of how your employment relationship ended. Whether you quit your job or were fired, if you do not receive your final paycheck on time, or if you only receive part of what you are owed, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against your employer. Contact our reputable California employment law attorney at Davtyan PLC today to find out how you can recover the wages you are owed plus waiting time penalties.