Under California labor law , employees who give adequate notice of quitting, or who are discharged, are entitled to be paid their final wages on the date they quit. If the employer fails to make payment on the quit date, it must pay the former employee one day’s wages for each day that payment is not made, up to a maximum of 30 days. The days for which an employer will owe includes weekends and holidays even if the employee would not have worked those days.
The law requires quitting employees to provide 72 hours notice in order to expect final wages on the quit date. Final wages include not only regular pay, but also payment for accumulated vacation time. Employee expenses are not considered wages and are therefore not required to be paid on the last day.
To collect the penalty, the employee must file a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, although nothing prevents an employer from paying the penalty on its own initiative. The penalty payment is not considered wages, so there are no withholdings as with a regular paycheck. The wages used in calculating the penalty do not include overtime unless the employee worked scheduled overtime every week.
When a complaint is filed, the DSLE will determine the duration of the penalty period . That is typically the time between the quit date and the date the final wages are received. However, employees have an obligation to receive the payment when it is available. For example, if the employer notifies the former employee that he can pick up his final check two days after the quit date and the employee waits a week to pick it up, then the additional delay caused by the employee does not count toward the penalty.
If an employer simply mails the final check without any prior understanding with the employee, then the date the check is actually received stops the penalty period. Postmark dates do not count. Contact us today to speak to a professional wage and hour lawyer in California.
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