California Waiting Time Penalties
Under California wage and hour laws, when your employer does not pay you promptly after you are either terminated/ fired or quit - then your employer probably owes you what is called a "California Waiting Time Penalty" or "waiting time penalties." They are called this because your employer is making you wait to get the wages that you earned. California law protects you by imposing a penalty on your employer because you were not paid all of your earned wages at the time that you terminated (read: stopped) your employment.
California waiting time penalty rules
Fired, discharged, laid-off and/or let go
Here are some of the in’s and out’s, so to speak of the law. If your employer terminates you they have to pay your final check that day. This includes for all hours worked. And all meal and/or rest period wages that you are owed (read: an hour's wages that you are owed for not being provided a legally compliant meal break and/or rest period).
Quit - where you provide at least 72 hours notice that you are quitting
If you quit and give 72 hours notice that you are quitting, then your employer has to pay you all the wages you are owed on your last day.
Quit - where you don't provide at least 72 hours notice that you are quitting
If you quit without giving 72 hours notice, then your employer has 72 hours to pay you all the wages you are owed.
Bill Turley is regularly asked to testify before the California legislature as an expert on California wage law.
Bill Turley testifying before them California State Assembly on California wage laws.
30 days wages
You may probably reading this and thinking to yourself, “I wasn’t paid pursuant to California Waiting Time laws.”
When that happens, your employer owes you a days wages for every day after they were supposed to pay you under California Waiting Time laws.
More California Waiting Time Laws
the assessment of the waiting time penalty does not require that your employer intended the action or anything blameworthy, but rather that the employer knows what he is doing, that the action occurred and is within the employer’s control, and that the employer fails to perform a required act.
Assessment of the penalty is not automatic however, as a "good faith dispute" that any wages are due will prevent imposition of the penalty.
In order for the penalty to apply, there must be an employer-employee relationship and a quit or a discharge, which includes a layoff.
But, if the company calls you an independent contractor and you are misclassified because you are really an employee under California law - then you are owed waiting time penalties. Generally, this is not a "good faith dispute" under California law.
The penalty applies to the willful failure to pay "any wages," which refers to the definition of "wages" in Labor Code Section 200. Thus, all compensation must be considered in determining if all wages due were paid as prescribed by law.
The penalty is measured at your daily rate of pay and is calculated by multiplying the daily wage by the number of days that you were not paid, up to a maximum of 30 days. This does not mean that the wages continue for a 30-day period, but that you may be entitled to up to 30 actual days’ worth of wages.
The 30-day period is calendar days, and includes weekends and holidays and any other days that the employee would not normally work. Payment of the wages or the commencement of an action stops the penalty from accruing.
Waiting time penalties statute of limitations
A statute of limitations is a law which sets the maximum period which one can wait before filing a lawsuit. That is you have a certain amount of time, under the law, in order to file a lawsuit in order to protect your legal rights. All waiting time penalty claims have a three year statute of limitations.
Your next step
If you suspect (or know) that you haven't been paid all of the wages that you are owed, you need to immediately contact a seasoned California wage lawyer about your unpaid wages.
You can call us at 619-234-2833 or provide your contact information on this page.
You Are Probably Going To Have To File A Lawsuit
Filing a complaint in court commences an action. An employee’s filing a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is not considered the filing of an action, and does not stop the penalty from accruing. Which, of course, is where we come in.
It gets better.
The waiting time penalty is not wages, thus, no deductions are taken from the penalty payment.
Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.