California has some of the strongest protections when it comes to protecting the rights of employees. This includes the right to be paid correctly and on time. California laws are clear when it comes to how and when employees should be paid, what information workers should receive with their paychecks and when employees must receive their final paycheck when they quit or are fired or laid off. The laws also state what wages the final paycheck must include.
Payday Laws in California
Workers in California have the right to be paid at a minimum of two times a month. Under state laws, wages earned between the 1st and the 15th of the month must be paid to the employee no later than the 26th day of the same month and compensation earned from the 16th or the latter half of the month must be paid no later than the 10th of the following month.
If you get paid weekly, every two weeks or two times a month based on a different schedule, your employer must comply with payday laws by paying you for work done within seven days after the end of the pay period. For example, an employer who pays every two weeks is complying with payday laws as long as they pay workers within a week after each two-week payroll period ends.
Under the law, employers must also provide information to employees about designated paydays and notify employees about the time, date and place they will be paid.
Exceptions to Payday Laws
While California employees have strong protections, these payday laws, however, do not apply to all employees in California. Examples include employees who are in an executive or administrative position, or have been categorized as "professional employees." Employers may pay these employees only once a month, but by the 26th day of the month. Also, their paychecks should include their entire salary for the month. Another exception involves farmworkers in California who work for a labor contractor, who must be paid each week.
Pay Stub Requirements in California
Under California law, employers must provide employees with an itemized written statement with each paycheck and during each pay period. You may receive the paystub attached to your paper check or you may be able to view it online on your company's portal. This statement must include the following details or specifics:
- Gross wages earned by the employee during the pay period
- Net wages earned by the employee during the pay period
- Dates included in the pay period
- Total hours the employee worked during the pay period
- All deductions from the employee's pay including tax withholdings, cost of health insurance, etc.
- Wages for any piece work the employee provided
- The employee's name and last four digits of their Social Security Number
- The employer's full name and physical address
- Hourly rates in effect during the pay period and the number of hours the employee worked at each rate
Right to View Payroll Records
As an employee in California, you have the right to examine your payroll records within 21 days of a request to your employer. You may also request a copy of your payroll records, but your employer is within their rights to charge you for any copying costs. If your employer denies you access to your payroll records, you may be owed a $750 penalty from your employer for each violation.
Final Paycheck Law in California
If your job has been terminated - whether you were fired or laid off - you are entitled to receive your final paycheck right away. Under the law, the employer cannot delay giving you that final paycheck. They cannot make you wait until the next scheduled payday or even the next calendar day to pay you what you are owed, which includes all wages and accrued, unused vacation time or paid time off (PTO).
If you quit your job and gave your employer less than 72 hours' notice, they must pay you within 72 hours. If you provide your employer with at least 72 hours' notice, you must be paid on your last day of work. Like employees who are fired or laid off, your paycheck must include all of your accrued, unused vacation time or PTO.
What Penalties Do Employers Face for Late Payments or Violations?
California law allows employees to collect a "waiting time penalty" amounting to his or her daily wages for each day the check is late up to a maximum of 30 days. This law is in place to deter employers from delaying final paychecks. For example, if you earn $100 a day and your employer is 15 days late with your paycheck, you may be entitled to collect $1,500 in penalties. If your employer willfully or deliberately paid you late, the civil penalty is $200 for the initial violation. In addition, your employer may be ordered to pay 25% of the unlawfully withheld amount.
You might also be interested in reading our article on can I receive interest on unpaid wages?
How an Unpaid Wages Lawyer Can Help
It is important to know that California law requires your employer to pay you your earned wages on time. If your employer did not pay you on time, failed to provide you with paystubs even after requesting them, failed to provide you with a final paycheck or did not pay you all your wages such as accrued vacation, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced Los Angeles unpaid attorney who handles unpaid wages cases. Call our wage and hour claims lawyer at Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.