You put in the time and now you await your paycheck with bated breath. When your employer seems less than eager to pay you timely, no one can blame you for wondering how much he appreciates the work you put in. Fortunately, appreciation has little to do with it. Federal and state laws govern the fair payment of wages.
Each state has its own laws governing fair wages and the payment of those wages. Even if your employer pays you late, as long as he pays within the legal window as defined by state law, you have little recourse. If he does not pay when he should, you can file a claim with the state agency that governs labor laws, or you can file a civil court case. Be prepared to provide proof of what your employer owes you and when you should have been paid.
If the state's department of labor finds that you were not paid timely, a penalty may be assessed against the employer. The amount is dependent on the state and may compound daily until the wages are paid. The penalty does not necessarily go to the employee to compensate for having to wait for payment. The employee may be entitled to interest on the money owed, but the wages would have to be significant and held over a long period of time before the interest would add up to more than a nominal amount.
Final paycheck laws differ from normal payroll laws. While employers are required to pay on a regular basis, if you are fired from a job, your employer may be required to pay you as quickly as the last day of employment, no matter when the company normally pays employees. When the employer has to pay you is subject to state laws and may require that you request your final paycheck in writing in order to receive it before the next regular pay date.
If your employer fails to pay you timely, you can file a complaint with your state's labor department, file a case with the civil court or in small claims court, depending on how much you are owed. You may find it quicker and less expensive to work with your employer to get your paycheck. If payment is late repeatedly, consider finding a new job where you can depend on timely payment.