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An Employee’s Wage – Information to Know

An Employee’s Wage – Information to Know

By Malatesta Law on October 15, 2018

California law defines a wage as “all amount for labor performed by employees of every description, whether the amount is fixed or ascertained by the standard for time, task, piece, commission basis, or other method of calculation.” California Labor Code Section 200(a).

The California Supreme Court has construed “wages” broadly to include not only money paid to an employee but also to include other benefits that an employee is entitled to as part of their compensation (i.e. vacation pay, bonuses, profit-sharing plans).

Important Laws Regarding an Employee’s Wages

Wages Must Be Promptly Paid At The End Of An Employee’s Employment

If an employee is fired from their employment, an employee must be paid their wages immediately.

Labor Code Section 201: “If an employer discharges an employee, the wages earned and unpaid at the time of discharge are due and payable immediately…”

If an employee quits their employment, an employee must be paid their wages within 72 hours.

Labor Code Section 202: “If an employee not having a written contract for a definite period quits his or her employment, his or her wages shall become due and payable not later than 72 hours thereafter, unless the employee has given 72 hours previous notice of his or her intention to quit, in which case the employee is entitled to his or her wages at the time of quitting.”

Employees Must Be Paid Their Wages At Least Twice Per Month

With some exceptions, employees must be paid the wages they have earned at least twice per month.

Labor Code Section 204: “All wages…earned by any person in any employment are due and payable twice during each calendar month, on days designated in advance by the employer as the regular paydays. Labor performed between the 1st and 15th days, inclusive, of any calendar month shall be paid for between the 16th and the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed, and labor performed between the 16th and the last day, inclusive, of any calendar month, shall be paid for between the 1st and 10th day of the following month.”

It Is Illegal For An Employer To Withhold Part Of An Employee’s Wages

An employee must be paid all of the wages they have earned. It is unlawful for an employer to withhold from an employee wages that the employee has earned.

Labor Code Section 222: “It shall be unlawful, in case of any wage agreement arrived at through collective bargaining, either willfully or unlawfully or with intent to defraud an employee, a competitor, or any other person, to withhold from said employee any part of the wage agreed upon.”

It Is Illegal For An Employer To Pay An Employee Less Than The Minimum Wage

Employees must be paid at least the minimum wage for each hour they work.

Labor Code Section 223: “Where any statute or contract requires an employer to maintain the designated wage scale, it shall be unlawful to secretly pay a lower wage while purporting to pay the wage designated by statute or by contract.”

Vacation Wages Must Be Paid Upon Termination Of Employment

Employees must be paid the vacation wages/PTO they have earned at the end of their employment.

Labor Code Section 227.3: “Unless otherwise provided by a collective-bargaining agreement, whenever a contract of employment or employer policy provides for paid vacations, and an employee is terminated without having taken off his vested vacation time, all vested vacation shall be paid to him as wages at his final rate in accordance with such contract of employment or employer policy respecting eligibility or time served…”

Employees Can Discuss Their Wages With Their Co-Workers

Employees are free to discuss their wages, i.e. how much they are paid, with their co-workers.

Labor Code Section 232: No employer may do any of the following:

  1. Require, as a condition of employment, that an employee refrain from disclosing the amount of his or her wages.
  2. Require an employee to sign a waiver or other document that purports to deny the employee the right to disclose the amount of his or her wages.
  3. Discharge, formally discipline, or otherwise discriminate against an employee who discloses the amount of his or her wages.

Posted in: Wage & Hour