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 a change in the first quarterly remittance and reporting due date for paid family and medical leave premiums, and legal developments regarding the Seattle Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative.
Updated to include the forthcoming state Paid Medical Leave Act.
Updated to include forthcoming payroll requirements of the Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act.
Updated to include the forthcoming Duluth earned sick and safe time law.
This chart summarizes each state's requirements on when to pay final wages to an employee who has separated from employment, as well as how to treat any accrued but unused vacation time.
Updated to include new information regarding the forthcoming Connecticut Retirement Security Program.
HR guidance on state laws on the timing of final paychecks for terminating employees.