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My Employer Doesn’t Pay Me

By on October 20, 2016

My Employer Doesn’t Pay Me

Now What Can I Do?

Many employers, whether a small business or a large corporation, will fail to pay employees for the hours they worked.  The best action to take is to first try to talk with your employer to see what the reason is for them failing to pay you.  Below are some commonly asked questions by employees:

What to do if your employer doesn’t pay you on time in California?

The California Labor laws are clear that an employer must pay you on regular, scheduled pay days, e.g., the 1st or the 15th of the month.  Sometimes employers miss pay days due to unforeseen incidences and that is okay under the law, but you could sue for interest on the unpaid money. The amount you would receive would not be much, a few dollars, if your paycheck was only two days or even a week late.

The law is clear that employees must be paid at least two times a month on days that employers tell you in advance what day is pay day. Employers that establish pay days on a weekly, biweekly or semimonthly must be paid within 7 calendar days of the end of the payroll period within which the wages were earned (California Labor Code 204).

I forgot to submit my timecard on time to my employer for the pay period, can my employer delay my wages until after the timecard is submitted or next pay period?

No, your employer must pay you on the established pay day no matter if you submitted your timecard or not.  There is no exception in the law that allows your employer to make you to wait until your timecard is in or the next payday. Your employer can comply with the law, even without having your timecard, by paying all of the wages that it reasonably knows are due for your regularly scheduled work period.

What if my employer doesn’t have a set payroll period? How long can an employer not pay you?

If your employer does not have an established payroll period, California Labor code section 207 requires employers to pay wages earned between the 1st and 15th days of any calendar month must be paid no later than the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed.  Any wages earned by the employee between the 16th and the last day of the month, must be paid by the 10th day of the following month.   Here is an example:

John works for his employer on March 1st, 5th, 7th, 9th.  Because John performed the labor for his employer before the 15th, his employer must pay him by March 26th.  But if John works on March 16th, 19th, 22nd, and then his employer can take all the way until April 10th to pay him.

This example is common is many small companies to increase their cash flow at the expense of their employees.  Although it is not against the law, it is best to work for a company with established pay days.

YOUR EMPLOYER MUST POST THE PAYDAY NOTICE AS REQUIRED UNDER THE LAW.

What if my paycheck bounced?

When employers give employees paychecks that bounce, there are penalties, but it is best to speak with your employer to see if the problem was an error.  If your employer regularly gives you paychecks that bounce, contact an attorney to see if you can make a claim under the California Labor code.

If I quit my job does my employer still have to pay me?

The short answer is yes. Under California law, you must be paid all wages owed at the time your employment ceases. If you provided your employer at least 72 hours prior notice that you were quitting and quit on the date you said you would, the employer’s obligation is to pay you all of your unpaid wages at the time of quitting. If an employee quits without giving advance notice, the employer must provide the final paycheck within 72 hours. If your employer does not pay you all wages due within these time within these time frames, you have a right to bring forth an action for “waiting time penalties” under Labor Code section 201-203. Under this code section,  an employee may recover his or her average daily wage for each day the employer is late, up to a maximum of 30 days. You may bring forth this action either by filing a complaint with the California Labor Board, or by filing a case in the Superior Court.

Will applying for unemployment benefits affect my ability to recover unpaid wages from my employer?

No. Obtaining unemployment benefits will not foreclose on your right to recover any unpaid wages from your employer. California’s unemployment benefit laws do not overlap with an employee’s ability to prosecute an employer for unpaid wages under the California Labor Code.

This is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.  Please contact an attorney for a personalized consultation for your unique situation.

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