Is Your California Employer Allowed To Pay You Late?

Mar 4, 2022 | Employment

If you are a California employee, is it okay for your employer to pay you late? We explain the rules according to California law and tell you what you need to know in order to stand up for your legal rights!

Employers in California are legally obligated – both by federal labor laws (the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA) and by California state labor laws – to pay employees fair, timely wages for the work they do. At both the federal and state levels, there are many laws in place that specify how much you are to be paidFor example, you have the right to be paid the highest minimum wage possible according to the county in which you work, to be paid for all of the overtime work you perform, to be paid the tips you earn, and more. However, there are also clear laws in place that specify when you are to be paid. These legal protections apply to you even if you are an undocumented immigrant.

The short answer to the question “Is your California employer allowed to pay you late?” is no. In this blog post, our California wage & hour lawyers will break down the exact guidelines surrounding timely payment and what you can do to stand up for yourself if you have been paid late! If you suspect after reading this blog post that your employer has unfairly withheld the wages you deserve, call Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C., and schedule a free consultation to learn more about how our law firm can help.

The General Rules

In general, employees in California need to be paid twice per month on the next payday after a pay period ends, or within 10 days after. (The employer needs to establish what these paydays are before the first wages are paid, and the paydays need to be clearly posted somewhere where every employee can see them and refer to them.)

For example, if the first pay period is the 1st through the 15th day of the month, wages must be paid between the 16th and 26th day of that month. If the second pay period is the 16th through the last day of the month, wages must be paid between the 1st and 10th day of the new month. These wages should include any overtime worked in those pay periods.

This means that if you are like most other California employees, you need to receive a paycheck within 10 days of the pay period ending.

If you receive any part of your pay after day 10, you are getting paid late, which is against the law!

The Exceptions

If you are not paid on the bimonthly schedule spelled out above, or if you are an agricultural employee who is not provided room and board, the employer needs to pay your wages within 7 days after the pay period ends, not 10.

If you are an exempt employee – exempt employees are not paid hourly and generally work in administrative, executive, or professional careers – you must be paid at least once per month, on or before the 26th of the month, for the full month of work.

If you earn commissions for vehicle sales, you must be paid those commissions once per month on a designated day.

If you receive room and board from your employer, you must be paid at least once a month on a designated date, and paydays cannot be more than 31 days apart.


If you are fired or let go (with cause or without) your employer must pay you all unpaid wages that you haven’t received so far but that you have worked for, including the day of termination. You must be paid that amount (known as “final wages”) on the same day your employment is terminated. This includes payment for unused vacation time (but only if vacation time was offered to you in your employee contract).

If you quit your job and give notice at least 72 hours in advance, you must be paid your final wages on your last day or the day stated in the notice. If you do not give notice, you must be paid within 72 hours of your last day of work.

Penalties For Employers

These laws would be useless and wouldn’t protect employees at all if there were no penalties for breaking them. Penalties are divided up into three categories based on whether the infraction was willful, non-willful, or for final wages.

If your employer knew that they were paying your regular pay late (wilful), they are subject to a $100 fine for a first-time violation and a $200 fine for any subsequent violations. They pay these penalties to the State of California. However, you can recover up to 25% of these penalties (and attorney costs) via a PAGA claim. They may also owe you liquidated damages equal to the amount that your employer didn’t pay on time.

If your employer paid your final wages late, they are subject to a waiting time penalty. You can earn payment equal to one day’s wages for every day of late payment, up to 30 days.

If Your Employer Hasn’t Paid You On Time, Call Our Experienced California Late Wage Lawyers To Learn About Your Options!

You deserve to be paid on time – and legally, you are supposed to be! If you suspect or know that your employer has paid you past the date that you were supposed to be paid, you have options. The best way to start is usually to ask your employer (in writing) about the late wages, but if being paid late is becoming a pattern, or if your employer isn’t willing to compensate you as you deserve, our lawyers can help you take legal action. Our multilingual legal team has 60 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of employees. It costs nothing to discuss your case with our attorneys, and it is completely confidential until you decide to move forward; your employer can’t retaliate against you for talking to us! Don’t wait any longer to get paid. Call today to schedule your free consultation!

Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C.

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