Understanding Final Paycheck Laws by State (+ Ultimate Chart!)

Did an employee leave your business? It’s time to whip out your employee termination checklist to see what you need to do. And one of the responsibilities on said checklist is giving terminated employees their final paycheck. But, how soon do you need to pay their final paycheck? Cue final paycheck laws by state.

Read on to learn about (and comply with) final paycheck laws. 

General rules for a final paycheck for a terminated employee

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 the employee earned, even if you fired them. And, you cannot attach a condition of receipt to the final paycheck. 

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Although last paycheck laws vary by state, giving a terminated employee their final paycheck on their last day can simplify your 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. 

Final paycheck laws by state

No federal final paycheck law requires employers to give employees their wages immediately.

However, 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.  

When do you have to give employees their final paychecks? Final paycheck due dates typically depend on state laws and whether the employee was discharged 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. 

Termination pay laws by state: Chart

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 (using the handy links provided below!).

StateFinal Paycheck Deadline for Fired EmployeesFinal Paycheck Deadline for Employees Who Quit
Alaska3 working days after the employee’s day of terminationNext payday that’s at least 3 working days after the employee’s last day
Arizona7 working days or the next regular payday (whichever comes first)Next payday
ArkansasNext payday (employers owe double the wages due if wages are not paid within 7 days of payday)Next payday
CaliforniaImmediately at the time of termination (with exceptions for seasonal employees in certain industries)Immediately if the employee gives at least 72 hours prior notice; 72 hours after quitting if the employee gives no notice
ColoradoImmediately (with some exceptions)Next payday
ConnecticutNext business dayNext payday
D.C.Next working dayNext payday or within 7 days of resignation date, whichever is earlier
DelawareNext paydayNext payday
HawaiiImmediately, or next working dayNext payday, or immediately if the employee gave at least one pay period’s advance notice
IdahoNext payday or 10 business days, whichever is earlierNext payday or 10 business days, whichever is earlier
IllinoisImmediately if possible, but if not, next paydayImmediately if possible, but if not, next payday
IndianaNext paydayNext payday
IowaNext paydayNext payday
KansasNext paydayNext payday
KentuckyNext payday or 14 days, whichever is laterNext payday or 14 days, whichever is later
LouisianaNext payday or 15 days after the discharge date, whichever is earlierNext payday or 15 days after the discharge date, whichever is earlier
MaineNext paydayNext payday
MarylandNext paydayNext payday
MassachusettsImmediately (in most circumstances)Next payday
MichiganNext payday (with exceptions for certain industries)Next payday
MinnesotaWithin 24 hours of a written demand for paymentNext payday. If the payday is within 5 days of the last day of work, employers have up to 20 days.
MontanaImmediately within 4 hours or end of the business day (whichever occurs first)Next payday or 15 days, whichever is earlier
NebraskaNext payday or within 2 weeks, whichever is earlierNext payday or within 2 weeks, whichever is earlier
NevadaWithin 3 daysNext payday or within 7 days, whichever is earlier
New HampshireWithin 72 hoursNext payday
New JerseyNext paydayNext payday
New MexicoWithin 5 days; task, piece, and commission wages due within 10 daysWithin 5 days; task, piece, and commission wages due within 10 days
New YorkNext paydayNext payday
North CarolinaNext paydayNext payday
North DakotaNext paydayNext payday
OhioNext payday or within 15 days, whichever is earlierNext payday or within 15 days, whichever is earlier
OklahomaNext paydayNext payday
OregonNext business dayOn the last day of employment if the employee gave 48 hours notice; within 5 working days or the next payday (whichever comes first) if employees did not give 48 hours notice
PennsylvaniaNext paydayNext payday
Rhode IslandNext paydayNext payday
South CarolinaWithin 48 hours or next payday, not exceeding 30 daysWithin 48 hours or next payday, not exceeding 30 days
South DakotaNext paydayNext payday
TennesseeNext payday or within 21 days, whichever occurs lastNext payday or within 21 days, whichever occurs last
TexasWithin 6 calendar daysNext payday
UtahWithin 24 hoursNext payday
VermontWithin 72 hoursNext payday or the following Friday
VirginiaNext paydayNext payday
WashingtonNext paydayNext payday
West VirginiaNext paydayNext payday
WisconsinNext paydayNext payday
WyomingNext paydayNext 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

Final paycheck laws by state: Map

Use our quick-reference map to find your state’s final paycheck laws.

final paycheck laws by state maps (fired employees and employees who quit)

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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.

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