Waiting Time Penalties

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Quick Summary

If an employer fails to timely pay a former employee all owed wages, the employee's wages continue as a penalty until paid, for up to 30 days.

Law Review

Public policy in California has long favored the full and prompt payment of wages due an employee.

"The reasons for this penalty provision are clear. "Public policy has long favored the `full and prompt payment of wages due an employee.' [Citation.] `[W]ages are not ordinary debts. . . . [B]ecause of the economic position of the average worker and, in particular, his dependence on wages for the necessities of life for himself and his family, it is essential to the public welfare that he receive his pay' promptly." (Pressler v. Donald L. Bren Co. (1982) 32 Cal.3d 831, 837; see also Gould v. Maryland Sound Industries, Inc. (1995) 31 Cal.App.4th 1137, 1147.)." (Mamika v. Barka (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 487.)

The penalty applies to the willful failure to pay "any wages," which refers to the definition of "wages" in Labor Code Section 200.  Thus, all compensation must be considered in determining if all wages due were paid as prescribed by law. "Wages" does not include expenses. In calculating the penalty, overtime wages are considered only if overtime is regularly scheduled each week. Occasional or infrequent overtime is not considered in the calculation of the daily rate of pay for purposes of computing the penalty.

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  • Whether taxes must be deducted from waiting time payments


  • Whether penalties are paid per work day, or per calendar day


  • If an employee is terminated late on a Friday, and their final check is available early Monday, are there penalties?


  • Must an employee show-up to demand a paycheck to be entitled to penalty payments?


  • Calculations for piece rate workers


  • Whether penalties are owed if wages are timely paid, but vacation pay is not


  • Whether penalties are paid to part-time employees


  • How the penalty is calculated


  • Over 15 examples of waiting time penalty situations and the calculation of damages


  • Text of pertinent statutes and cases



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