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Paydays, pay periods, and the final wages

In California, wages, with some exceptions (see table below), must be paid at least twice during each calendar month on the days designated in advance as regular paydays. The employer must establish a regular payday and is required to post a notice that shows the day, time and location of payment. Labor Code Section 207 Wages earned between the 1st and 15th days, inclusive, of any calendar month must be paid no later than the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed, and wages earned between the 16th and last day of the month must be paid by the 10th day of the following month. Other payroll periods such as weekly, biweekly (every two weeks) or semimonthly (twice per month) when the earning period is something other than between the 1st and 15th, and 16th and last day of the month, must be paid within seven calendar days of the end of the payroll period within which the wages were earned. Labor Code Section 204

Overtime wages must be paid no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period following the payroll period in which the overtime wages were earned. An employer shall be in compliance with Labor Code Section 226(a) relating to total hours worked by the employee if the overtime hours are recorded as a correction on the itemized statement for the next regular pay period and include the dates of the pay period for which the correction is being made. Labor Code Section 204(b)(2)

An employee who is discharged must be paid all of his or her wages, including accrued vacation, immediately at the time of termination. Labor Code Sections 201 and 227.3

A group of employees who are laid off by reason of the termination of seasonal employment in the curing, canning, or drying of any variety of perishable fruit, fish or vegetables, must be paid within 72 hours after the layoff. Payment shall be made by mail to any such employee who so requests and designates a mailing address therefor. Labor Code Section 201

An employee engaged in the production of motion pictures who is laid off and whose unusual or uncertain terms of employment require special computation in order to ascertain the amount due, must be paid by the next regular payday. The payment of wages to employees covered by this section may be mailed to the employee or made available to the employee at a location specified by the employer in the county where the employee was hired or performed labor. The payment shall be deemed to have been made on the date that the employee's wages are mailed to the employee or made available to the employee at the location specified by the employer, whichever is earlier. For purposes of this section, an employment terminates when the employment relationship ends, whether by discharge, lay off, resignation, completion of employment for a specified term, or otherwise. Labor Code Section 201.5

An employee engaged in the business of oil drilling who is laid off must be paid within 24 hours after discharge, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Labor Code Section 201.7

If employees are employed at a venue that hosts live theatrical or concert events and are enrolled in and routinely dispatched to employment through a hiring hall or other system of regular short-term employment established in accordance with a bona fide collective bargaining agreement, these employees and their employers may establish terms in their collective bargaining agreement the time limits for payment of wages to an employee who is discharged or laid off. Labor Code Section 201.9

An employee without a written employment contract for a definite period of time who gives at least 72 hours prior notice of his or her intention to quit, and quits on the day given in the notice, must be paid all of his or her wages, including accrued vacation, at the time of quitting. Labor Code Section 202

An employee without a written employment contract for a definite period of time who quits without giving 72 hours prior notice must be paid all of his or her wages, including accrued vacation, within 72 hours of quitting. An employee who quits without giving 72-hours prior notice may request that his or her final wage payment be mailed to a designated address. The date of mailing will be considered the date of payment for purposes of the requirement to provide payment within 72 hours of the notice of quitting. Labor Code Section 202

The place of the final wage payment for employees who are terminated (or laid off) is the place of termination. The place of final wage payment for employees who quit without giving 72 hours prior notice and who do not request that their final wages be mailed to them at a designated address, is at the office of the employer within the county in which the work was performed. Labor Code Section 208.

Direct deposits of wages to an employee's bank, saving and loan, or credit union account that were previously authorized by the employee are immediately terminated when an employee quits or is discharged, and the payment of wages upon termination of employment in the manner described above shall apply UNLESS the employee has voluntarily authorized that deposit and provided that the employer complies with the provisions of Labor Code Section 213(d) relating to the payment of wages upon termination or quitting of employment.

An employer who willfully fails to pay any wages due a terminated employee (discharge or quit) in the prescribed time frame may be assessed a waiting time penalty. The waiting time penalty is an amount equal to the employee's daily rate of pay for each day the wages remain unpaid, up to a maximum of thirty (30) calendar days. Mamika v. Barca (1998) 68 Cal.App4th 487 An employee will not be awarded waiting time penalties if he or she avoids or refuses to receive payment of the wages due. If a good faith dispute exists concerning the amount of the wages due, no waiting time penalties would be imposed. A "good faith dispute" that any wages are due occurs when an employer presents a defense, based in law or fact which, if successful, would preclude any recovery on the part of the employee. The fact that a defense is ultimately unsuccessful will not preclude a finding that a good faith dispute did exist. However, a defense that is unsupported by any evidence, is unreasonable, or is presented in bad faith, will preclude a finding of a "good faith dispute". Labor Code Section 203 and Title 8, California Code of Regulations, Section 13520

Even if there is a dispute, the employer must pay, without requiring a release, whatever wages are due and not in dispute. If the employer fails to pay what is undisputed, the "good faith" defense will be defeated whatever the outcome of the disputed wages. Labor Code Section 206

Note to Employers:  If you have non-negotiated checks on your books which are made payable to employees whose employment has been terminated (i.e., because you are unable to locate the employee) and you have made all reasonable efforts to pay the wages, you may send the non-negotiated checks with an explanation of your efforts to contact the employee to the nearest office of the Labor Commissioner.  The Labor Commissioner will make further efforts to locate the employee to make payment of the wages and, if unsuccessful, the checks will be deposited into the State of California Unclaimed Wages Fund.  Click here to locate the nearest office of the Labor Commissioner.



Employee Classification Rule Labor Code Section

Executive, administrative and professional employees

May be paid once a month on or before the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed if the entire month's salary, including the unearned portion between the date of payment and the last day of the month, is paid at that time. Such employees may be paid more frequently, however.

204

Workers employed by a farm labor contractor

Must be paid on payroll periods at least once every week on a business day designated in advance by the farm labor contractor. Payment on such payday must include all wages earned up to and including the fourth day before such payday.

205

Employees in agriculture, horticulture and viticulture, stock or poultry raising, and household domestic service who are boarded and lodged by their employer

Must be paid once in each calendar month on a day designated in advance by the employer as the regular payday. No two successive paydays shall be more than 31 days apart, and the payment must include all wages up to the regular payday.

205

Employees of a motor vehicle dealer licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles who are paid commission wages (mechanics and other employees performing repair or related services are not considered commissioned employees.)

Must be paid once during each calendar month on a day designated in advance by the employer as the regular payday. However, when such employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for the date on which wages shall be paid, such arrangement takes precedence over state law.

204.1



1. Q. If I don't submit my timecard for the pay period, can my employer delay payment of my wages until the timecard is submitted?

A. No, it is the employer's obligation to pay you on the established payday regardless of whether the timecard is submitted. There is no exception in the law that allows the employer to require you to wait until the next payday, or even until the timecard is turned in. Your employer can comply with the law, even without having your timecard, by paying all of the wages that it reasonably knows are due for your regularly scheduled work period.

2. Q. I worked four hours of overtime during the last payroll period, when must my overtime wages be paid?

A. Payment of overtime wages earned in one payroll period must be paid no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period. Only payment of the overtime wages may be delayed until the next payday, not straight time wages.

3. Q. I am currently paid biweekly (every two weeks). My employer wants to change the payroll period to semimonthly (twice a month) and pay on the 10th and 25th of the month. This change will cause a delay in the payment of my wages. Is this legal?

A. Yes, as long as the employer gives you prior notice of the change and meets the payday requirements of the law.

4. Q. If my regular designated payday falls on a holiday, when should I be paid?

A. If your regular designated payday falls on a holiday and your employer observes that holiday by closing its business, your employer may pay your wages on the next business day.

5. Q. How frequently must I be paid?

A. With few exceptions (see table above), you must be paid twice during each calendar month on days designated in advance by your employer as regular paydays.

6. Q. Is my employer required to keep payroll records?

A. Yes. Every employer doing business in California must maintain comprehensive payroll records on each of its employees.

7. Q. Am I entitled to see my payroll records?

A.

Yes. Your payroll records must be made available to you upon reasonable request, which request must be complied with by your employer as soon as practicable, but no later than 21 calendar days from the date you make such request. Effective January 1, 2003, a failure by the employer to permit a current or former employee to inspect or copy his or her payroll records within the 21 day period entitles the current or former employee to recover a $750.00 penalty from the employer in a civil action brought before a court of competent jurisdiction.

8. Q. Can I be paid in cash, and if so, am I entitled to an itemized wage statement?

A. Yes. Pursuant to Labor Code Section 226(a), semimonthly or every time you are paid your wages, whether by check, in cash, or otherwise, you must be given a detachable part of the check or a separate writing showing required information. Note: Effective January 1, 2008, only the last four digits of your social security number, or an employee identification number other than a social security number may be shown on the itemized statement. (Labor Code Section 226(a)(7)) The following information is required to be on your itemized statement:
  1. Gross wages earned
  2. Total hours worked (not required for salaried exempt employees)
  3. The number of piece-rate units earned and any applicable piece rate if the employee is paid on a piece rate basis
  4. All deductions (all deductions made on written orders of the employee may be aggregated and shown as one item)
  5. Net wages earned
  6. The inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid
  7. The name of the employee and the last four digits of his or her social security number or an employee identification number other than a social security number
  8. The name and address of the legal entity that is the employer
  9. All applicable hourly rates in effect during the pay period, and the corresponding number of hours worked at each hourly rate by the employee
Click here for an example of an itemized wage statement (pay stub) as required by Labor Code Section 226 for an employee paid an hourly wage. Note: This itemized statement is not applicable to an employee whose compensation is solely based on a salary and who is exempt from payment of overtime under Labor Code Section 515(a) or any applicable Industrial Welfare Commission Order.

Click here for an example of an itemized wage statement (pay stub) as required by Labor Code Section 226 for an employee paid on a piece rate basis.

9. Q. I just gave my employer two weeks advance notice that I was quitting. Instead of letting me work until the date of my resignation, he told me that I was discharged, and instructed me to collect my personal belongings and leave. Upon leaving he gave me a check for all wages earned up through my last hour of work. Am I entitled to be paid for the time that I gave notice? Additionally, when must my final wages be paid?

A. You are not entitled to any wages for the notice period because you did not perform any work during that period. For the purpose of wage payments, your employer changed a quit into a discharge, and all of your earned wages became due and payable immediately at the time he terminated you.

10. Q. I am a commissioned salesperson and was just discharged from my employment. When must my final wages be paid?

A. In the event the commissions have been "earned" on or before the date of your termination, the employer must complete the necessary calculations and pay the commissions on the date of the termination in the case of a discharge or a voluntary quit with more than 72 hours prior notice, or within 72 hours of the termination of the employment relationship in the case of a voluntary quit without such prior notice. It is not permissible for the employer to wait until the customary time for calculating the commissions of current employees, nor is it permissible to delay payment of such earned commissions until the next regularly scheduled payday. If the commission has not yet been earned at the time of termination and is awaiting the completion of some legal condition precedent, for example, receipt of the customer's payment, the commission must be paid to you immediately upon completion of the condition precedent.

11. Q. If my employer does not pay me on my regularly scheduled payday, what can I do?

A. You should contact the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and explain that your employer is not paying you on the regularly scheduled paydays. DLSE will assist you by explaining the law to your employer. Failure to post the payday notice required by Labor Code Section 207, and failure to pay wages in good funds on the regular designated payday as prescribed in Labor Code Sections 204, 204b, 205, and 209, respectively, is a misdemeanor. Labor Code Section 215