When an employee leaves your business, you must follow an employee termination checklist. One of your employer responsibilities is giving terminated employees their final pay. But, how soon do you need to pay it out? Cue final paycheck laws by state.
Read on to learn about (and comply with) final paycheck laws.
General rules for issuing termination pay
Regardless of whether you fire an employee or they quit, you must give them their last paycheck.
The final paycheck should contain the employee’s regular wages from the most recent pay period, along with other types of compensation, such as accrued vacation, bonus, and commission pay.
You may be able to withhold money from the employee’s last paycheck if they owe your business and you have written authorization to do so. For example, an employee may still owe you money from a salary advance agreement. Be sure to check with your state before doing this.
You cannot withhold unpaid wages that are due to the employee, even if you fired them. And, you cannot attach a condition of receipt to the final paycheck.
Although last paycheck laws vary by state, giving a terminated employee their final paycheck on their last day can simplify your employer responsibilities. That way, you don’t need to mail the paycheck or have the employee pick it up from your business at a later date.
Keep in mind that the employee’s final paycheck isn’t the same thing as severance pay. Severance pay is money you give to an employee for a certain length of time after they lose their job. Unlike a final paycheck, severance pay is negotiable. And, you may require employees to sign something saying they won’t sue your business if they accept severance pay.
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Final paycheck laws by state
There is no federal final paycheck law that requires employers to give employees their wages immediately. But, some states require the employer to provide a terminated employee’s final paycheck immediately or within a certain time frame, such as the following payday. And in some states, the final paycheck laws depend on whether the employee was fired or quit.
As an employer, you must follow your state’s final paycheck laws. Failing to do so can result in penalties or even a lawsuit. Beyond when the last paycheck is due, your state might set further regulations on things like paying out unused vacation pay.
Take a look at the following chart for last paycheck laws, for both employees who quit and employees you fire. Keep in mind that state laws can change, so check with your state for more information.
|State||Final Paycheck Deadline for Fired Employees||Final Paycheck Deadline for Employees Who Quit|
|Alaska||3 working days after employee’s last day||Next payday that is at least 3 working days after employee’s last day|
|Arizona||7 working days after the employee’s last day, or the next regular payday (whichever comes first)||Next payday|
|Arkansas||Next payday (will owe double the wages due if wages not paid within 7 days of payday)||Next payday|
|California||Immediately (with exceptions for certain industries)||Immediately if the employee gives at least 72 hours prior notice; 72 hours after quitting if the employee gives no notice|
|Connecticut||Next business day||Next payday|
|D.C.||Next business day||Next payday or within 7 days, whichever is earlier|
|Delaware||Next payday||Next payday|
|Hawaii||Immediately, or next working day||Next payday, or immediately if the employee gave advance notice|
|Idaho||Next payday or 10 working days, whichever is earlier||Next payday or 10 working days, whichever is earlier|
|Illinois||Next payday||Next payday|
|Indiana||Next payday||Next payday|
|Iowa||Next payday||Next payday|
|Kansas||Next payday||Next payday|
|Kentucky||Next payday or 14 days, whichever is later||Next payday or 14 days, whichever is later|
|Louisiana||Next payday or 15 days, whichever is earlier||Next payday or 15 days, whichever is earlier|
|Maine||Next payday||Next payday|
|Maryland||Next payday||Next payday|
|Michigan||Next payday (with exceptions for certain industries)||Next payday|
|Minnesota||Within 24 hours of demand||Next payday that is more than 5 days after quitting, but no more than 20 days after the final day|
|Montana||Immediately within 4 hours or end of the business day (whichever occurs first)||Next payday or 15 days, whichever is earlier|
|Nebraska||Next payday or within 2 weeks, whichever is earlier||Next payday or within 2 weeks, whichever is earlier|
|Nevada||Within 3 days||Next payday or within 7 days, whichever is earlier|
|New Hampshire||Within 72 hours||Next payday|
|New Jersey||Next payday||Next payday|
|New Mexico||Within 5 days; task, piece, and commission wages due within 10 days||Within 5 days; task, piece, and commission wages due within 10 days|
|New York||Next payday||Next payday|
|North Carolina||Next payday||Next payday|
|North Dakota||Next payday||Next payday|
|Ohio||Next payday or within 15 days, whichever is earlier||Next payday or within 15 days, whichever is earlier|
|Oklahoma||Next payday||Next payday|
|Oregon||Next business day||Immediately if employee gave 48 hours notice; within 5 working days if employees did not give 48 hours notice|
|Pennsylvania||Next payday||Next payday|
|Rhode Island||Next payday||Next payday|
|South Carolina||Within 48 hours or next payday, not exceeding 30 days||Within 48 hours or next payday, not exceeding 30 days|
|South Dakota||Next payday||Next payday|
|Tennessee||Next payday or within 21 days, whichever occurs last||Next payday or within 21 days, whichever occurs last|
|Texas||Within 6 calendar days||Next payday|
|Utah||Within 24 hours||Next payday|
|Vermont||Within 72 hours||Next payday or the following Friday|
|Virginia||Next payday||Next payday|
|Washington||Next payday||Next payday|
|West Virginia||Next payday||Next payday|
|Wisconsin||Next payday||Next payday|
|Wyoming||Next payday||Next payday|
Make sure to consult your state government for more information. Your state might:
- Have more restrictive final paycheck laws for some circumstances
- Make exceptions if you have a written contract or agreement with an employee
- Let employees request earlier payment
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This article has been updated from its original publication date of October 15, 2018.This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.