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An introduction to California paycheck laws

On Behalf of | Nov 4, 2021 | Wage And Hour Laws

Having a guarantee of the regular and timely payment of wages is an employee’s fundamental right. State labor laws illustrate this right through payday laws, which mandate how frequently employers must pay their employees and require that they provide written notice of these regulations. All states except Alabama and South Carolina have laws that require weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly paychecks.

In California, even more stringent laws protect workers’ rights to receive pay on time, even if it is their last paycheck. As in all states, there are exceptions for certain businesses and public or private sector employees, and independent contractors are not protected by these laws.

Residents of Los Angeles and surrounding areas should always be aware of their rights in the workplace when they accept employment in order to fight back if the employer violates  laws surrounding guaranteed wages, overtime and other protections.

What payday protections do California employees enjoy?

Under California labor laws, employees enjoy the right to be paid at least twice a month, with compensation for work in the first half of a given month receivable no later than the 26th day, and for work in the last half of the month by the 10th day of the following month. Employers are in compliance with the law if the payday occurs within seven days after the end of a pay period that can be weekly, every two weeks, or twice a month.

Employers must provide notification of the time, date and place of payment to their employees. Employers must also provide an itemized statement with each paycheck with the following information for each pay period:

  • Dates of pay period
  • Employee’s name and last four digits of social security number
  • Gross wages
  • Net pay
  • Total hours of work
  • Units of work and rate of pay
  • Hourly rate and total number of hours worked
  • Deductions

Employers must also keep a payroll record, and under law must provide these records within 21 days of an employee’s request to examine them, or face fines. Any violation of state payday laws will incur initial fines, but an employer who repeatedly violates these laws may face misdemeanor charges, or even worse, PAGA claims.

What is the final paycheck law?

Under California law, non-exempt employees who are fired, laid off, or quit must receive their final paycheck at the time of termination. The employer may not wait until the next pay period to issue the final check, and it must include all wages, including bonuses or unused vacation time. A worker who quits with less than 72 hours’ notice is guaranteed their final paycheck within 72 hours, and noncompliant employers face waiting time penalties if they delay payment.

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