Under federal law, your employer does not have to give you your final paycheck right after you quit. In most states, an employer must give departing employees their final wages by a certain time, and different states have different rules. Sometimes, when you get paid depends on how you left the company.
Contact the state labor department for its final paycheck rules to know when you should receive your last paycheck after you quit. In California, for example, you must give at least 72 hours of notice before quitting to get your last paycheck at the time of quitting. If you fail to give at least 72 hours of notice, your final wages are due no later than 72 hours after you quit. In Washington, whether you quit or were fired, your employer has until the next regularly scheduled payday to give you your final paycheck. Federal law says your employer must pay wages due by the regular payday for the pay period in question. Therefore, if the state does not say when final wages should be paid, your employer must pay your final wages by the next regularly scheduled payday.
State law might dictate how your employer should pay final wages. For example, in California, if you quit without notice, you can ask your employer to mail your final paycheck to a designated address. If you quit without notice and do not ask your employer to mail your final paycheck, your final wages are due at your employer’s office in the country where you did the work. Your employer must terminate your direct deposit when you quit, unless you voluntarily consented to have your final wages direct-deposited into your bank account and if your employer complies with other state requirements.
Your employer must pay all final wages due to you by the state-mandated time frame, including accrued vacation time, if you are owed that. If the state leaves certain payments up to company policy, your employer must honor the policy. Let’s say your employer requires that you give at least two weeks’ notice to receive your accrued vacation wages; you must give the stated notice to receive the payment. Severance pay is another type of pay that might be left up to company policy. Your employer must make mandatory deductions such as payroll taxes and wage garnishment from your final wages. It generally cannot, however, make deductions that will cause your wages to drop below the required minimum wage. The state might forbid specific deductions from final wages.
If you do not receive your final paycheck by the state-mandated time frame, try to resolve the matter with your former employer. If it refuses to pay you, file a wage claim with the state labor department. The department might limit the claim amount. In Indiana, for example, as of the date of publication, the minimum is $30 and the maximum is $6,000. You may file a lawsuit in court to obtain final wages that you’re unable to recover from the state labor department. File your claim by the required time frame under state law to prevent the statute of limitations from expiring.
Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.