Overview: State laws and regulations govern when employers must provide terminated employees with their final paycheck. Employers should stay abreast of the termination pay laws in the states where they pay employees because there are serious civil and criminal penalties for failure to comply.
Most state laws require final paychecks to be issued at the time of termination, within a certain number of days after termination, or at least by the next regular payday. In many states the timing rules differ for voluntary terminations and involuntary terminations. Additional special rules may apply to employers in certain industries and for temporary layoffs, lockouts and strikes.
Some state laws also have specific provisions regarding payment of unused accrued vacation time on termination. In other states, however, it depends on the terms of the particular employer's policy, handbook, employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, if any.
Author: Rena Pirsos, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect the forthcoming requirement to compensate employees for certain work schedule changes under the Seattle Secure Scheduling Ordinance.
Updated to include the forthcoming addition of final paycard and direct deposit regulations.
Updated to reflect new paycard law, effective October 1, 2016.
Updated to include the important new requirement to notify employees who have unclaimed wages, effective September 11, 2016.
Updated to reflect the forthcoming Chicago paid sick leave law.
Updated to reflect the payroll implications of the forthcoming Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance.
Updated to reflect a regulatory amendment requiring employees to acknowledge receipt of and changes to pay-related information.
Updated to include information on the forthcoming introduction of additional pay statement requirements.
Updated to include forthcoming requirements regarding post-termination restrictive covenants.
HR guidance on state laws on the timing of final paychecks for terminating employees.