The importance of paycheck laws

Frank S. Clowney III

One of the most important rights that labor laws guarantee to employees is that they will receive their wages in a regular and timely manner. Called payday laws, every state except South Carolina and Alabama has requirements for how frequently an employee must be paid. Most states also require that employers give notification to their employees of these payday requirements.

Although there are exceptions for certain businesses and some states make distinctions for certain industries, in general, these laws provide guarantees of weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly paychecks. Only workers under the category of independent contractors do not have protection under these laws.

Additional protections for California employees

In California, there are strict laws that mandate the frequency and time frame during which employees must receive their paychecks. California employees must receive their pay at least twice a month, and the employer must post notice of the date, time and location of the payment.

Payment for work in the first half of the month is receivable no later than the 26th day, and for work in the second half of the month, by the 10th of the following month. Payroll periods that are weekly, bi-weekly, or bi-monthly but occur at other times than the beginning, middle, or end of the month must pay out within seven days of the end of that payroll period.

Employers must also include an itemized statement with specific information, including:

  • Dates of pay period
  • Name and last four digits of the SSN of the employee
  • Gross and net pay, including deductions
  • Total hours of work
  • Units of work and pay rate

The employer is required to keep payroll records and must comply with an employee’s request to see them. Any violations to California payday laws will incur fines, and repeated violations can result in misdemeanor charges or even PAGA claims.

California’s final paycheck law

In California, an employer must issue a final paycheck at the time of job termination, not in the next pay period. The paycheck must include all wages, including bonuses or unused vacation time. This applies to non-exempt employees who quit, are fired, or laid off. Even if the employee quits with less than 72 hours’ notice, the employer must issue that paycheck within 72 hours.

Residents of San Diego should always be aware of their rights, especially as it concerns guaranteed wages, overtime and other protections, and know how to fight back if their employer is breaking the law.