Across the US, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes a set of minimum employee protections that must be followed by all employers in the country, and no state is permitted to take away these rights. However, states are allowed to create additional protections for their workers — and California is widely considered to be one of the most employee-friendly states in the nation. Below, we have outlined a few important rights regarding the payment of wages and protection against unpaid wages in California.
1. Any legal and agreed-upon form of compensation can count as unpaid wages.
The California Labor Code define “wages” in a broader sense than just hourly pay. Per Labor Code § 200(a), wages are defined to include “all amounts for labor performed by employees of every description, whether the amount is fixed or ascertained by the standard of time, task, piece, commission basis, or other method of calculation.” So hourly pay, fixed salaries, commissions, piece-rate payments, and even payments that vary by project all apply. Additionally, if employees are not given the breaks, mealtimes, and vacation time that they have rightfully earned, they may also have an unpaid wages case.
2. Employees have a right to view their employer’s payroll records upon request.
Moreover, your employer must keep payroll records for 3 years after the date of your departure from the company, and you are entitled to view and/or obtain a copy of the records upon reasonable request regardless of your status with the company. Per Labor Code §1198.5, an employer must respond to an employee’s request to review and/or obtain a copy of the personnel records within 30 days. An employer is subject to a $750.00 penalty if it fails to timely respond to an employee’s request with respect to personnel records.
3. Most workers must be paid at least twice per month.
Federal law is rather vague on this issue: no minimums are established; rather, employers are simply required to pay employees on a uniform and predictable schedule. In California, however, “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.” [California Labor Code § 204 (a)]. Generally speaking, employers have ten days after the end of the pay period to make payment before facing penalties. There are some exceptions to this frequency rule, however — employees who are given room and board, salespeople, CEOs, and certain administrative employees may be legally paid on a monthly basis.
4. Upon termination, wages must be paid in a timely manner.
If you are terminated, the employer must pay all wages due on the date that you are discharged. (California Labor Code §201(a). If you quit your job, an employer must pay all wages owed within 72 hours. (California Labor Code §202(a). An employer who fails to timely pay all wages due is subject to a waiting time penalty of potentially up to 30 days of compensation (California Labor Code section 203(a).
5. Unpaid wage laws protect workers regardless of their immigration status.
According to estimates, there are roughly 1.7 million undocumented employees forming part of the California workforce. And though these men and women certainly face a large number of legal challenges, the right to be paid for all work done should not be a hurdle for the work they have done is not (or, at least, should not) be one of them. Unpaid wage laws, overtime laws, OSHA protections, and other legal rights of workers all apply to all California employees regardless of their immigration status and your employer is prohibited from utlilizing your lack of citizenship against you. (California Labor Code §244).
If you feel that your rights have been violated, you have legal resources at your disposal. Visit Perrin Law Group online today to learn more about your rights, and whether or not you have grounds for a claim for unpaid wages.