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Some people might not expect to get that final paycheck. It may seem almost normal to kiss the last check goodbye. But California law is clear and serious about it. In virtually every situation, the employer must pay you every penny.

What if you quit because you did not like the boss, or the job was too dangerous or abusive? What if they fired you because the boss did not like you, or you did something you should not have done?

No matter. In California, you can expect your last paycheck and it must include your last minute of work.

The laws are clear and specific

The details might not matter much right now, but it can help to think about some of the California laws specially designed just to cover your final paycheck. They are on the books and the state strongly enforces them.

If the employer suddenly fires you or lays you off, you have a right to:

  • Your last paycheck, immediately when they fire you.
  • The pay from any unused vacation or other paid time off you have accumulated.

They cannot make you wait until tomorrow or until the next regular payday or until they have the cash. California says the employer must pay you immediately.

What happens if you quit?

If you quit, the story is almost the same, only slightly more complicated.

  • If you give three-days’ (72-hours’) notice or more, they must give your pay immediately at the end of your last shift, including unused vacation time, and the rest.
  • If you suddenly quit or give less than 72-hours’ notice, then they have 72 hours after you stop working to give you what they owe you.

What if they break the law?

The employer also knows these laws. In fact, not knowing them can cost them a lot of money.

If your check is late one day, they must add one day of pay to your check. Every day the check is late, they must add one day of pay, up to 30 days.