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California Final Paycheck Law – Workers Know Your Rights

Emanuel Shirazi

California employment law sets very specific parameters for how and when employees are to be compensated. One of the most prominent laws is that of compensation at the time of termination. Under this law, employers are required to pay you within a certain amount of time after your final day of work, whether through termination or resignation. Understanding this law can help you not only ensure your workers’ rights are protected but also plan your transition from one job to another.

California Labor Codes

There are several labor codes that determine the final compensation an employee must receive at the time of discharge from employment. The three major labor codes include:

  • Labor Code 201 LC:If an employer discharges an employee, they are to pay all earned and unpaid wages owed at the time of termination. If an employee provides 72 hours’ notice of resignation to their employer on their final day of work, then the employee is owed all earned and unpaid wages on their final day of employment.
  • Labor Code 202 LC:If an employee resigns from their position without providing 72 hours’ notice to their employer, then their employer must pay the employee any earned and unpaid wages owed within 72 hours of their final day. This can be provided by mail if the employee designates a mailing address.
  • Labor Code 203 LC:Any employer who fails to make appropriate payments under the specifications of the law will incur penalties. They will be fined the amount that is owed to the employee at a rate equal to one day’s salary per day. This will continue until the payment is made to the employee.

Further subsections dictate specific regulations for various industries and the subsequent legal action that can be taken should an employer fail to adhere to these policies. Examples of industry-specific laws include:

  • Seasonal workers:Seasonal workers who are laid off at the end of the season and involved in industries such as canning, curing, or drying fruits, fish, or vegetables are required to be paid within 72 hours of their final day. This can be done by mail.
  • Motion pictures:Employees who work in the film industry and are laid off, but whose pay may require additional or special computations, may be paid during the next pay cycle. Payment may be mailed or provided at a specific location.
  • Oil drilling:Except for Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, employees in the drilling business must be paid within 24 hours of their employment termination.
  • Life event venues:Life event venues include theatrical performances and concerts. Employees in these industries often work under a collective bargaining agreement and must be paid in accordance with that agreement.

In addition to the wages you are owed, if you have accumulated vested vacation time, you must also be paid that time at the rate of earnings at the time of your discharge from employment. Employers may or may not offer this benefit, but if you are earning vested time, that time cannot be taken away from you. If your employer does not offer vested time off, you are not owed anything for your accumulated time.

Filing an Unpaid Wages Claim in California

If your employerviolates any of the hour and wage laws, you have a right to seek compensation. This can include all owed compensation as well as any penalties for failure to provide it. However, if you have a good-faith agreement with your employer, penalties may not be applicable. Any unpaid wages must still be paid within the bounds of the law.

If your employer fails to provide you with your unpaid wages within the legally mandated timeline, you have the right tofile a claimseeking compensation for:

  • Unpaid wages and overtime
  • Time “off the clock” that you worked for the employer
  • Any unprovided meal or rest breaks
  • Any pay discrepancy, such as not providing the mandated minimum wage
  • Any accumulated late wages

In some cases, these claims reveal a bigger problem with the employer. They could result in class action claims being filed against them for multiple violations against multiple employees and former employees.

FAQs About California Final Paycheck Laws

What Is the California Law for a Final Paycheck?

If your employer terminates your employment, they are required by law to pay you all wages earned up to and on your final day of employment. The same law applies if you resign and provide 72 hours’ advance notice of your resignation. If, however, you resign in less than 72 hours, then your employer is only required to pay you within 72 hours of your final day.

Can an Employer Hold Your Last Paycheck If You Quit in California?

An employer may not withhold your final check under any circumstances. It is due on the final day of employment or within 72 hours after if sufficient notice is not given at the time of resignation. However, if the funds are going to be delayed, your employer may make a good faith agreement with you that may extend the payment period. Both parties must agree for this to apply.

What Is California Labor Code 203?

According to Labor Code 203, an employee may not, under any circumstances, willingly and knowingly prevent the distribution of the final payment to gain penalty payments provided by law. This law specifically seeks to deter waiting time penalties and to relieve employers of responsibility if the employee purposely avoids their final paycheck.

Can an Employer Hold Your Last Paycheck If You Quit?

An employer may not hold your final paycheck if you quit. You must provide them with 72-hour advance notice of your resignation. If that deadline is met, they must pay you on your last day. If you provide them with less than 72 hours’ notice, then they are required to pay you within 72 hours after your final day.

Contact California Employment Attorneys

If you or someone you know has been impacted by unpaid wages,contact our officesfor a consultation today. At the Shirazi Law Firm, P.C., we have the experience and knowledge to help you recover any compensation you may be entitled to.

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