What Is the Penalty for Not Paying Employees on Time in California?

employers paying wages late

California law dictates that all employers have a legal obligation to pay employees their wages when those wages are due.

This law includes payment for overtime work and final paychecks.

An employer not paying on time violates California labor laws and must be held accountable for their adverse actions.

If your employer failed to pay you on time or for overtime hours or failed to give you your final paycheck, the attorneys at Ottinger Employment Lawyers can help.

We’re here to defend workers’ rights and have protected workers’ interests for twenty years.

When Should Wages Be Paid?

Depending on your employment relationship, your employer may pay your wages by salary or at an hourly pay rate.

They may owe you wages at the end of the day, every two weeks, or on the last day of the month. In some cases, they may owe you wages at another date outlined in an employment contract. 

Employers must pay eligible overtime employees “regular pay” at least once a pay period on every elected payday. The employment relationship between you and your employer will define your “regular pay.” 

What If My Employer Doesn’t Pay Me on Time?

Maybe you’re wondering, can my employer pay me late in California? The answer is almost always ‘no.’ An employer not paying wages on time in California faces stiff penalties, and you can take action to recoup damages. 

When you file a claim against your employer for unpaid wages, you request damages for any losses suffered when your employer failed to pay you.

Penalties, however, differ from damages. Penalties are extra fines that California imposes on your employer for violating your employee rights.

Penalties serve to rebuke your employer and deter them from illegally withholding wages in the future. 

Late Paycheck Damages

Lost wages, known as “back pay,” are the amounts you earned for working that should have been paid but weren’t. If your employer failed to pay you for all of your work hours, a court could award you back pay.

Back pay totals your unpaid hours times your hourly wage. For example, if your hourly wage is $15 an hour and you worked 30 hours “off the clock” but were not paid for it, you’ll receive $450 in back pay.

Late Paycheck Penalties 

If you receive a late paycheck, California Labor Code 210 requires employers to pay a penalty of $100 for an initial violation.

For subsequent offenses, the penalty is $200 plus 25% of the amount your employer unlawfully withheld. This higher penalty may also apply to a first violation if it was deliberate.

When your employer’s violation affects many employees, you may consider initiating a claim under California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA).

This Act allows California employees to enforce the Labor Code on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California.

When you take the initiative to pursue this type of action, you have the right to recover a portion of the penalties collected by the State of California.

An attorney can help you determine what type of action is most appropriate for your circumstances.

Ottinger Employment Lawyers Can Defend Your Rights 

If you believe your employer violated California wage and hour laws, you may be entitled to significant penalties and damages.

In addition to penalties and damages, California wage and hour laws give employees the right to collect attorney fees and court costs.

Since 1999, Ottinger Employment Lawyers has helped thousands of employees across California.

We can assess your case, explain your potential damages, and help you decide the best course of action to achieve your maximum compensation. Call 213-214-8002 and let us assist you.

Author Photo

Robert Ottinger, Esq.

Robert Ottinger is an employment attorney who focuses on representing executives and employees in employment disputes. Before starting his firm, Robert slugged it out in courtrooms trying cases for the government. Robert served as a Deputy Attorney General for the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles and then as Assistant Attorney General for the New York Attorney General’s Office in Manhattan.

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