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Can California Employers Owe Penalties for Late Paychecks?

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California Wage & Hour Attorney

What can I do if the Company doesn't pay me on time?

Or what can I do if the company doesn't pay me my last paycheck?

These are common questions that I often hear. My name is Bill Turley and in this post, I answer these questions.

You may already know that California labor laws require most workers to be paid at least twice per month. State law also dictates that you should be paid on time and be paid the full amount that you are owed each payday. But what happens if your employer makes you wait for your paycheck?

California Workers Can Collect Penalties for Late Paychecks

Employers may have valid defenses in some cases where pay is late. For instance, if the employee failed to provide the employer with a correct address, the late payment is not the fault of the employer. There are also exceptions for employees who earn executive salaries or work on commission. For all other employees, the rules and penalties for late paychecks are as follows:

  • Regular pay. If your employer does not have a valid reason for withholding your pay, the company may be liable for a penalty of $100 for the first violation and an additional $200 penalty for each subsequent violation under Labor Code section 210. The employer may also be ordered to pay an additional 25% of the amount that has been withheld from you based on the circumstances. Even if the employee and employer disagree about the amount of wages that are owed, the employer must pay the full amount of undisputed wages on time to avoid penalties.
  • Overtime pay. Unlike regular pay, there is a grace period for the payment of overtime wages. If your overtime hours are not included in the paycheck for the period in which they were earned, they must be paid no later than the next regular paycheck.
  • Final paychecks. The penalties for failing to pay an employee his or her final paycheck are much steeper than those of regular paychecks. Also called waiting time penalties, these could amount to 30 full days of pay if the check is late. As a result, most companies issue a final paycheck to workers on their last day of employment or within three days of the employee’s final shift.

A quick example - the company owes Chuck a lot of money

Chuck works for a rental car company.  The company illegally calculated and paid the overtime rate on the bonuses and incentives to Chuck and the other workers. Inculding the bonuses and incentives, Chuck averaged making $840 a week and he worked 5 days a week.

Chuck stopped working for the company. It is six months later and the company still hasn't paid Chuck. 

Based on these facts, the company owed Chuck to the unpaid overtime on the bonuses and incentives.  In addition, the rental car company owes Chuck for 30 days of waiting time penalties. Which is 30 days of wages.

$840 divided by 5 days = $168

$169 x 30 days = $5,040

Thus, the rental car company owes Chuck $5,040 in waiting time penalties.

This is just one example, you are also entitled to waiting time penalties if you don't receive legally compliant meal breaks, work off the clock or don't get paid overtime correctly.

You need to understand there are no guarantees in life or law.  Every case is different. Past successes in cases don’t guarantee success in your case and/or future cases.  As always you should consult with a seasoned honest wage theft lawyer.  Nothing in this Newsletter should be construed as legal advice.  

I am known as one of California's leading wage theft lawyers

I am regularly asked to testify before the California State Senate and California Assembly on wage theft and potential wage and hour legislation. 

Bill Turley Testifying on Wage Theft Legislation - California State Assembly


Believe it or not, I am known for telling the blunt, unfiltered truth. That is one of the main reasons why I am often asked to help draft proposed legislation. My firm has offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Bakersfield. I expect to open an Inland Empire office soon.

Need answers now?


William Turley
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
Do I still count the days the employer mail my check for late penalties
Posted by Janet Randolph on January 6, 2018 at 03:08 PM
If my company doesn't put my direct deposit in on time and I accrue overdraft charges, along with late fee from bills that should be paid, is the company responsible for that?
Posted by Shenee Collins on January 5, 2018 at 11:31 AM
Hi, My name is Yesenia and Im 16 years old. I have a question that I really want to know about. Like what to do? ... Okay so, I am currently working at a fast food restaurant but when I first entered The managers told me to fill up paper work but since I dont have a computer at home I asked if I could use theirs and the Manager was fine with it. Ofcourse, as I bearly started working I asked for help on 2 of my forms... which one included the W' Form... The manager wasnt aware of it as he said he had never seen that before.... (Which is weird to me If his manager?...right) ... so what he does is Call The other manager and He reads aloud what the paper says over the phone to the manager telling her what to put on Total number of allowences and She says "What? what you mean"(sounding as if she was distracted) and so the manager with me Reads aloud again and she says "Uhm I dont know just tell her to put 0" And so He does as what he says and Im done with paper work right, expecting to get my paycheck, comfortable with the fact that theres nothing wrong since the managers helped me.... Finally pay day comes but .... Turns out my paycheck was Non-negotiable ... ofcourse Im like "Whaaaaat?" ... so I ask the managers about why it had came to me like that... and turns out that Supposively I had put and gaven the government the right to take away $1,000 out of my check.... (which is not even what I earn anyways)... So im totally confused and I explained to them that It wasnt me who had put that Since I had asked for help from the managers and I told them That I only wanted my pay check!! and well for the to fix that so my next pay check wont come out like the first one.... Its been a week already and they still havent paid me my first check.... what should I do? I just want for them to fix that and My first pay check!
Posted by Yesenia Hernandez on January 4, 2018 at 09:53 AM
I am a full time employee at a maintenance company. I am paid bi-weekly. I have my paychecks direct deposited into my back account. My second check in December was not approved even though I turned in my hours. My employer admitted it was their oversight. They approved my time and will send me a physical check, but when the check arrives it will be 6-7 days after the date I was supposed to get paid. This has caused my bank account to be overdrawn because of bills scheduled to be automatically paid. What are my rights as an employee?
Posted by Andrew on January 3, 2018 at 01:11 AM
I started my job on 11/30 thry stated that we will get paid 12/08 for that day and the following day. When the 8th came around people that i had started with only recieved a 3 hour check when we worked almost 13 hours. I however didnt recieve a check at all. They had me fill out a correction form which i was fine with and they said they added the hours that it would be over nighted. It was not. I figured it would be on the next check again it wasnt and that check was 3 hours short. We are going on 2 weeks now waiting on that check and i have emailed HR to fix this and shes making it seem like it i put the wrong address and that it was sent to my old address. I then went into the employee portal to check the amount of the check that was supposably issued and mailed to my old address and there was nothing there. What can i do. I am lost and just want whats owed to me people have quit because of this because they werent laid correctly or not at all and they still havent recieved their owed amounts which is why i havemt quit yet. What can i do?
Posted by Samantha Moore on December 20, 2017 at 08:32 PM
I am currently working at a security company who is late paying people checks, then acts as if we need to jump through hoops just to get our checks late. He also has done this to other co workers before, so it seems like a pattern. What can i do?
Posted by Antonio Olivera on December 12, 2017 at 10:41 AM
I was terminated after I confronted my employer about not giving me my pay stubs (even upon request) not paying me on time (making me chase my check with an one excuse or another) and making me violate health safety standards daily. I was their model employee, many members to validate that. I am being targeted, it's a personal vendetta against me.
Posted by Julie Ann on December 2, 2017 at 06:08 PM
My employer did not calculate my hours correctly, I am missing a few hours on my check. How that is possible I do not know, but I have already been paid for that pay period. What are my rights for that? They stated that I would be paid for those hours the following pay period. Is that right? Thank You
Posted by Jay on October 27, 2017 at 11:18 PM
Hi my name is jake, I recently started working for a new employer, within my same union. The company is now a week late with my paycheck , everyday they have come up with another reason why they haven't payed me (problems with direct deposit/ wrong mailing address , etc. I have proof that they received all of the correct information above although they have claimed that the issue was on my end. All of my coworkers have been paid on time including people that were hired the same date as me. I want to know if there is anything I can do .
Posted by Jake Flores on October 18, 2017 at 08:22 PM
Hello. I was hired as a Permanent -intermittent - on call Dental Hygienist -for Sac County in March last year. On Friday Sept 29th I was laid off , informed my help is no longer needed. I was instructed to call HR to close out my accounts and receive final check. When calling HR I was informed that the earliest they would have my check is the following Friday ( normal payday ) Oct 6th. I was told that HR would deliver my check to me at the post office.at 5pm. If I was not there she would mail my check to me. I arrived 15 mins early. And waited 45 mins. HR never showed up. I called HR before I left. No answer. No call back. On Monday. Tuesday. No check in mail. I called HR manager to find out where my check is. No answer. No callback. On weds/Thursday Oct 11/12 I contacted the union steward. Even though I am not covered under the union as a intermittent permanent employee. I wanted answers and It’s been almost two weeks since they decided to lay me off and I Still have no final check ! Friday 10/13/17 I had no check. But was promised I would have it by 5pm. I have not received a paycheck for a month now. not received my final paycheck for Two weeks , a week past my normal payday. Starting the day I was let go. I was in contact with HR/HR manager/EDD/Union rep/ Union Steward. I never heard back from anyone .. except the union Steward. No one has answers. What do I do ? Please help! Thank you !! Sincerely , Kendra
Posted by Kendra on October 14, 2017 at 02:05 PM
I started my new job on 8/14. I worked full 40 hours a week with 2 days of overtime. I didn't recieve my pay check on 8/24. They told me something in the system was messed up so I would get paid for my first two weeks on my pay check on 9/15. I didn't receive my first two weeks pay. I called payroll and after a lot of talking they said that my start date in the system was on 8/24. I told them I have proof I started on 8/14. So they said they will figure it out. It's not 10/01 and I haven't received my first two weeks pay. I filed a claim with the labor board. I don't know if I need to do anything else.
Posted by Alexandra Hernandez on October 1, 2017 at 10:29 PM
I was supposed to be payed friday by 2pm. Nobody recieved their pay by 2pm. Alot of people got paid the following morning. I still have not received my check and it is Monday. What do I do? Do they owe me additional compensation for having to wait so long?
Posted by Rachel Michaud on October 1, 2017 at 12:36 PM
I quit my job on Thursday at ufc gym it is now Monday I received my normal check on Saturday but they didn't give me my last weeks pay with it it's now 24 hours past the 72 hour law what should I do
Posted by Steven walton on September 26, 2017 at 12:01 AM
This is happening now right to me and my coworker's how do I report them? What can I do to get action ?
Posted by Andre' Mayo on September 22, 2017 at 02:49 PM
Hello my name is Alicia I work in Napa Valley California and believe that my boss or payroll have been taking my breaks off when IAM not actually taking breaks and are not paying me my overtime correct for the hours worked I asked them why they were illegally taking my money they tried to fire me I really need help with this situation please contact me at 7076814542
Posted by Alicia ARAGON on September 19, 2017 at 09:45 PM
We have been told that paydays are the 15th and the 30th. I have direct deposit. Today is the 15th. I have no deposit. This is the 2nd time this has happened. The first time when I contacted my employer about it, they accused my bank of being the problem so this time I did not contact them. However I'm pretty sure I will have bounced check fees. How should I handle this?
Posted by MM on September 15, 2017 at 10:14 PM
I currently work for a private 1st-12th school. We get biweekly paychecks, which we receive on the 16th and 1st of every month. My first day back at work was august 7th. My employer failed to give us our first pay check on the 16th of august. We are getting our very first paycheck on the 1st of September now for the August 16-31st I worked. What is the law regarding not receiving the first paycheck when I worked from the 7th till the 15th of august? My employer is stating that they are going to pro-rate my check since I only worked august 7th-15th although the first day back to work was the 7th. (I am also a salaried employee in California)
Posted by Mb on September 15, 2017 at 12:23 AM
Hello, I have a question if my scheduled pay date is every week on a Saturday but I don't receive my check until the following week on a Monday or Tuesday what can I do about this late payment situation? because I have bills that need to be played on time? And what penalties should be granted to me???
Posted by Marquis on September 14, 2017 at 06:39 PM
My pay date is today, owner saif it might be in my account tommorrow or not ?? Is their a penalty she needs to pay ?
Posted by Cristal Robles on September 5, 2017 at 03:47 PM
My husband had an accident at work and he filed a work comp claim. Right now he is not working , and the work comp claim is going through the process . He got injured two weeks ago, and 2 days ago was his lay day at work , however he did not receive his pay check for the hours he worked the week he got injured . We feel it's for discriminatory reasons , they said they needed to figure his hours out when he called them to ask about the check . They had two weeks to do that. He is salary , so it's not rocket science , and they have the time of the day when the accident happened . I don't know if I should go through work comp attorney or file a claim with the labor board . They have made this whole process a nightmare . It took them a week to report the accident , which they tried to lie about , but we have evidence , especially since he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance from his work . Thank you I appreciate your time .
Posted by Melissa on September 3, 2017 at 12:46 PM
I recieved an 87 dollar check last check. I was missing 8 hrs and on top of that i was missing my vacation pay. Which shouldve been giving to me on august 4ths paycheck because i sent my boss the sheet on july 26th. A week and a half in advance. What can i do regarding this? Cant they get a penalty? My boss just said sorry that he forgot. Do i pay for his mistake or do they pay me for his mistake?
Posted by Edgar Perez on August 20, 2017 at 08:43 PM
Has anyone ever contacted you about the company SoCal Naturals? They owe at least ten employees months of pay, totaling over thousands of dollars. Us employees are trying to group together but don't know what is the most effective thing to do. We are all technically independent contractors too, which I'm sure makes it more difficult
Posted by L. Math on August 16, 2017 at 11:53 PM
Hello. I gave my employer a 2 weeks notice. And my last shift was on thursday, its now tuesday. 5 days later. Am i owed any pay for my final check being late. I woek in California.
Posted by rinnell on August 15, 2017 at 08:21 PM
How soon after job completion is an employer required to pay? What are the applicable state and federal statutes?
Posted by John Clefstad on August 12, 2017 at 10:33 PM
I was given a raise on 6/11/17. From $11.93 to 12.93 for being a temp manager for 2 month. I didn't get paid those 2 month with raise. I got paid $11.93 hourly. Which isn't right. My store manager contacted HR. They keep saying they need more info but he has given them all the info to them. It's been 4-5 paychecks without the raise. What should I do?
Posted by Jose Lizaola on August 8, 2017 at 08:48 PM
Home Depot lost my paycheck over a month ago. All 3 attempts at asking for assistance from HR Attachment & Assistant Store Mgr have not only failed but have been blatantly ignored - the only contact is the management wanting more. Is there a point to filing a claim? How much retaliation is going to come from the company?
Posted by Tom H. on July 30, 2017 at 01:25 AM
i was suspended with pay pending an investigation at usc verdugo hills hospital on the 7/13. However i was only paid for one day of that pay period. i was told if i didnt resigning they would go after my license. So i signed a letter to resign effective 8/21 and they agreed to pay me until that date. What are my options.
Posted by Leo Aguinigs on July 28, 2017 at 03:14 AM
Hey there! I was told I was being given a raise from $20 to $23 dollars an hour starting July 1st, meaning July 1-15th I was earning a higher wage - this pay is given on our paycheck that comes on the 23rd of the month. But apparently there was a glitch and when I received my check it did not include the raise. I told my boss and he said it was a mistake and he'd look into it. But has yet to get me my money owed. What do I do? I don't want to wait for this money. Am I owed more money because the check is late? Any insights would be greatly appreciated!
Posted by Stephanie on July 22, 2017 at 11:59 PM
William, I am a travel RN for USSI Staffing currently contracted to BMH since 08/08/2016 until June ?? 2017. There was a period of 4 weeks that I did not receive my pay because I refused to go to my hotel after a shift, log onto public wifi and waste time re-entering my hrs for a third party vendor that does payroll for supplemental staff at BMH. I finally went to the Labor Commissioner and was paid very quickly afterwards. I am pd on a weekly basis and this past week I took a screen shot of my time punches and emailed them to my recruiter (our solution to me not doing someone else;s job as well as my job). I had to appear in court the day before pay is direct deposited into my account so my phone was turned off, but my hrs were submitted,. When I was able to turn on my phone I learned that they wanted a pic of my personal screen that showed my name with the hrs I kindly obliged them but they said it was too late to get my money and would have to wait until Monday. There is no way that screen shot could have been anyone's acct but mine because they are password protected. My feeling is they still have a burr up their butt about getting in trouble for attempting to "teach me a lesson" and could have issued the direct deposit and requested the more complete screen shot later that day. They also used the excuse that they had missed the cutoff line for wire transfers. I have been exceedingly generous with these clowns and not had them fined nor have I tried to collect for all the mandatory 10 breaks I don't get (I could count on one hand the 10min breaks I've received since I started in 08/2017 to current) . I work 12hr shifts and only go on 1 30min break (unpaid) for lunch per shift. This is making it difficult to pay my bills and aside from the breaks how can I keep them from making these types of retaliatory acts a regular occurrence?
Posted by Carolynn Montgomery on April 30, 2017 at 05:03 PM
Hello I recently worked for subway on may 15 then 3 weeks later I couldn't work there no more dur to me moving so I let my boss at subway know 1 week prior yo me leaving that I was moving from county's so I asked for my check he said it would be ready Friday but it wasn't so I moved 300 miles away and then I called about my check he said bring your shirt in and I will Have your check ready do I did I drove 300 mikes to drop off my shirt and pick up my check but he didn't have my check ready he stated he would mail it so I waiting 1 week no check in the mail I kept calling him he said he would money gram me money or send me a person check due to he supposed shredded my check what should i do
Posted by Christina Rosado on April 27, 2017 at 07:06 PM

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