Last Paycheck Laws By State

Regardless of whether an employee is fired from a job, laid off, or he or she quits, there are laws in place regarding the employee receiving the last paycheck. An employer is not allowed to withhold any wages that are due you. These laws were enacted to protect workers from the unethical practices such as failure to provide workers with their earned pay. This is a form of wage theft.

General Rules for Last Paycheck

There are some general rules for giving the final paycheck to the employee. The final paycheck must show the employee’s most recent pay period. It should also include any accrued vacation time, bonuses, and commission. Employers cannot withhold any wages that the employee are due to you unless the employee owed the employer for something, such as an advance or for equipment or uniforms.

They must maintain proof of anything that you are owed, and they must show you how much you have paid toward that debt. They cannot charge you for certain things, so it must be something that is approved to be taken from your pay. As an example, if you damaged company equipment, the employee handbook should indicate that you would be responsible for any damages. They should also notify you that you will be charged for this specific thing and how much will be deducted from your check for it.

What is Severance Pay?

The last paycheck that you receive is not the same as severance pay. A severance package is pay and benefits that employees could be entitled to receive when they unwilfully leave employment with a company. In the U.S., there is not a requirement for employers to provide a severance package to their employees. Severance pay is an agreement between the employer and the employee.

State Laws For Last Paycheck

Each state sets its own laws and procedures that apply to the individual’s last paycheck. You should make sure the state guidelines are followed and that you are treated fairly. The laws can vary significantly from one state to the next. Here is a rundown of some of the different state laws that apply to distributing the last paycheck:

  • Tennessee – the final check must be given on the scheduled payday or within 21 days, whichever is later
  • Alaska – If the employee was fired the final check must given within three working days after the termination, or if the employee quit the final check must be given on the next scheduled payday that is at least three days after the employee gives his or her notice
  • California – in California, the final check must be given if the employee was fired, but if the employee quit, the final check must be given within 72 hours, but if more than a 72-hour notice the final check must be given immediately
  • Illinois – The final check must be given on the next scheduled payday if the employee was terminated or if the employee quit.
  • New York – Regardless of whether the employee was fired or quit, the paycheck must be given the next scheduled payday.

If you are not paid your full paycheck and if the state laws are not followed, then you could be considered a victim of wage theft. You will need to maintain documentation and evidence to support your claim. You will need to prove that you were not paid the funds that you were entitled to receive, or that you were not paid in a timely manner.

How An Employment Lawyer Can Help

If you believe that you have been subjected to wage theft by your employer, you should enlist the help of an employment law attorney. When you consult with an employment law attorney, they will go over their payment. As an example, some lawyers will require a retainer to be paid upfront while others will take the case on a contingency basis. Be sure to understand the process and when your attorney expects payment.

You have a limited time to pursue a claim against an employer for wage theft. If you wait longer than 180 days after the wage theft took place, you will not be able to pursue a claim and recover your losses. To make sure your claim is handled properly and timely, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to share the details of your case with a lawyer who will provide a free case review and determine the best way to proceed with your claim.

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