Analyzing the Labour Code on Paycheck in California upon Termination

An employer that terminates (lays off or fires) an employee has to immediately pay the employee every of the employee’s earned, unpaid wages, as per the labor code guiding paycheck in California upon termination. This last payment has to include wages earned for work done until the final day of work, and payment for any unused and accrued vacation time. If there are any unsettled wages from previous pay periods, the employer has to make up all the wages in the last paycheck as well.

It is not legal for an employer that fires or lays off an employee to withhold last payment until the end of the normally stipulated pay period.


The Labor Commissioner’s office that enforces California’s wage laws, states that a suspension of an employee should be treated as a discharge if the suspension is utilized simply to avoid having to meet the last pay requirement. An employer might, however, suspend a worker without paying up all earned, unpaid wages if the suspension doesn’t lead to termination or if the reason behind the suspension is to carry out a sincere investigation of wrongdoing before arriving at a decision on whether termination is right and the employer could show it properly investigated.

Exceptions to Immediate Final Pay

An exception to the laws that wages must be paid completely on the final day of work may be initiated when the employee’s work is carried out away from the administrative offices of the employer. Industries in which this exception to the laws applies include the oil drilling industries and motion picture. Yet even in these scenarios, all owed wages have to be paid within 24 hours of the termination, excluding holidays and weekends. Employers who terminate seasonal employment in the packaging and preparation of foods might have up to three days (72 hours) after termination to settle the final wages. In cases where the exceptions apply, the date wages are mailed is regarded as the date of payment.


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