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When should employees get final pay in California?

One of the primary concerns of an employee who is terminated or who quits is when they are going to get their final pay. This is something that has a lot of misinformation out there; however, California laws are pretty specific on when employees who are terminated or quit must be paid.

Not only does California law cover the when, it also covers the where and how. These specific laws are important to workers who need to get their final pay.

What happens when an employee quits?

If an employee gives a 72-hour notice, the final wages must be paid at the time the employee leaves his or her position. If no notice is given, the employee must be paid within 72 hours of the time he or she quits. Payments typically occur at the place of employment; however, there is an exception to this. When an employee does give notice that he or she is quitting, the employee can have their final check mailed to a specific address. In this case, the date that the payment is mailed is considered the date of payment.

What happens if an employee is terminated?

An employee who is terminated must be paid his or her final wages at the time of the termination. This includes only the actual pay that is due. California law doesn't provide requirements regarding sick pay that the employee has accumulated. The wage payment must occur at the location where the employee is terminated.

Employees who are let go or quit and don't get their final check within the time frames set forth by California law might opt to pursue legal avenues. Employers who don't comply with these requirements might have to pay a penalty.

Source: California Department of Industrial Relations, "Final Pay," accessed May 26, 2017

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