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What is the waiting time penalty under wage and hour law?

In California and throughout the country, there are certain subsets of laws that are part of the basic wage laws that an employee, and even an employer, might not fully understand. One is the waiting time penalty. Employees and employers must be aware of this requirement when an employee is due his or her wages when no longer working at the job. Under the law, the employer will be penalized if it has willfully failed to pay wages that the employee is due.

It is not automatic that the employer will be penalized for failing to promptly pay wages. If there is a good faith dispute that the wages are supposed to be paid, then there will not be a penalty from the state.

For there to be a penalty, the employer and the employee must have been in a true working relationship and there was a dismissal, the employee quit or there was a layoff. Any wages that were supposed to have been paid are applicable under this law. Expenses are not included. If overtime was paid and scheduled each week, it will be part of the penalty. Once the employee is paid, any action taken based on this law will cease. If an employee files a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), it will not be considered when sanctions against the employer are a possibility.

Former employees who are having trouble receiving what they are supposed to after they have stopped working for the employer should be aware of the waiting time penalty. Citing it can be motivation for the employer to pay what is owed. In some instances, an employer will still not pay what the employee is supposed to receive when leaving the job. Getting the employer to pay what is owed according to the state wage and hour law often requires legal assistance. Contacting an attorney can help.

Source: dir.ca.gov, “Waiting time penalty,” accessed on Oct. 3, 2016


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