Whether you quit a job or are fired, your employer must provide your final paycheck within a reasonable period of time. As of 2011, employers must do this by the next scheduled payday following job termination. In addition, employers cannot deduct wages from the employee's final paycheck unless they are required to do so by law, the employee agrees to them or the employer lost money due to employee theft or negligence.
If an employer is required by state or federal law to deduct amounts from your paycheck, he must deduct these amounts from your final paycheck. For example, if a court order requires your employer to deduct child support or payments for other debts from each of your paychecks, he must do so from your final paycheck as well. Your employer cannot deduct more than the amount specified by the court order or law. For instance, he cannot deduct twice the required amount for a debt because you will only be receiving one paycheck that month.
If you have agreed to voluntary deductions from your paycheck to cover benefits, your employer must deduct these amounts from your final paycheck as well. For example, if you have a 401k plan through your employer and have elected to put a certain amount of your paycheck into it every pay period, your employer must deduct this amount from your final paycheck as well. You may be able to request that she not do this by contacting your benefits administrator as soon as you are notified of job termination.
State laws vary regarding when an employer can deduct money from your final paycheck to cover losses. In most states, your employer can deduct wages from your final paycheck to cover losses from theft if he can prove that you stole goods or money. For instance, employers can deduct wages to cover shortages in your cash drawer. Employers may also be able to deduct wages for losses due to your negligence. If you broke merchandise accidentally, your employer cannot deduct wages to cover the loss, but he may be able to do so if you were careless.
If your employer issued a uniform or equipment to you when you started working for her, she may be able to deduct the cost of these items from your final paycheck if you fail to return the items. Always return any uniforms, cell phones, computers or other equipment your employer gave you for the purpose of doing your job to avoid the possibility of being charged for them upon your termination of employment.
- Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington; HR Advisor: Make Sure Your Agency Is in Compliance With New Payroll Deduction Rules; Bruce Schroeder; April 2006
- FindLaw: Deductions From Paycheck: When Can Employers Withhold Money From Former Employees?
- California Department of Industrial Relations: Deductions