Your scheduled payday has come and gone, and you have not received your paycheck yet. As time continues to pass, you wonder if your employer is cheating you out of your money or is simply careless. Regardless, California law is clear that employers should not only pay their workers on time, but they are subject to civil penalties for not doing so.
The state’s labor code 210 details your rights under the law to your wages on time and the recourse you have if your employer pays your wages late.
Penalties for late wages
If this is the first time your employer is late with your wages, your employer may be subject to a $100 penalty fee. State law penalizes employers for any initial violation to pay one or more of their employees. This means if your employer failed to pay you and several other workers, your workplace will have to pay $100 per worker.
You probably hope that this initial penalty will be enough to motivate your workplace to pay your wages on time from now on. Indeed, some workplaces are late with wages because of technical issues which they resolve. Still, state law will increase the penalty if your workplace is late with wages again to $200 per employee and 25% of the amount your employer did not pay you.
Penalties for intentionally late wages
Not all workplaces pay their wages late on accident. Sometimes an employer seeks to punish a worker by being late with their earnings. If you suspect this is the case, your employer may be subject to the heightened penalty of $200 plus 25% of the unlawfully withheld amount.
Keep in mind that attempts to punish you by withholding pay may also run afoul of federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination and retaliation. You may have other options to seek damages against your workplace if you suspect willful retaliation against you.