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March 2, 2023

Best Practices: Timing and Payment of Wages

Federal law requires payment of wages as cash, negotiable instruments (i.e., checks) or under certain circumstances, by crediting the worker for tips earned or the reasonable cost (fair value) of board, lodging or other facilities provided by the employer. Wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must be paid free and clear of any repayment obligations of any kind (e.g., kickbacks to the employer or its agent). Wages subject to the FLSA must be paid on the employer’s regular payday for the covered pay period. 

With limited exception, California employers must pay wages at least twice a month on the employer’s regularly designated payday.  Employees of farm labor contractors must be paid weekly. Executive, professional, or administrative employees may also be paid bi-weekly or once per month on or before the 26th day of the month the employee performed work. Employers paying exempt employees once per month must include the unearned portion that falls between the date of payment and the last day of the month. 

California employers must pay all wages earned on and between the 1st–15th no later than the 26th day of the month. Wages earned between the 16th and the last day of the month, must be paid by the 10th day of the following month. Employer’s paying on weekly, bi-weekly or semi-monthly are required to pay wages within seven calendar days of the end of the payroll period. Overtime wages are due by the next regular payroll period. 

California allows the payment of wages to be made in cash or by check. Employers may, under certain conditions, deliver wages by direct deposit or payroll card. Voluntary consent must be given by employees to receive wages by direct deposit and the use of payroll cards is restricted such that employers must allow employees one transaction per pay period with no fees and provide notice of payroll card services and procedures. Written or electronic statements of earnings must be provided to all employees.