California Labor law requires that wages be paid on regular pay days. However, if the employer misses the pay day, there is no automatic fine that they must pay, and you are not entitled to any addition money. It is possible that you could sue the employer for unpaid interest on the money, but assuming that this is a $1000 pay check that was one week late, this would amount to $1.92.
People frequently confuse "Waiting Time Penalties" with paying paycheck late -- there is a big difference. You are due you final paycheck on your last day of employment if your employer fires you. If you quit, you are due the paycheck within 3 days. If this FINAL paycheck is late, there are serious penalties that are associated with it. Your wages continue as a penalty until the receive the payment (up to a maximum of 30 days). Using the example above, if you earned $1000 per week and the employer terminated you but did not pay you until one week later, the employer would owe you an additional $1000. However, if you were not fired, but were simply paid late, the employer would owe you $1.92.
If your employer is paying you late, I would recommend that you complain to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
No. You are responsible for managing your own checking account. You should not write checks against it if you do not have the money to cover them.
Bounced checks carry very significant penalties. Essentially, you have two options: (1) treat the check like any other bounced check, or (2) treat the check as wages and receive Labor Code penalties. Usually, it is best to take advantage of the Labor Code provisions for bounced checks. These require that you attempt to deposit the check within 30 days of receiving it. If it is bounced, your wages will continue as a penalty until they are paid, up to a maximum of 30 days. These penalties will accrue even if you still work for the company. However, these penalties are your only remedy to recover damages for a bounced check. That is, the company does not owe you the "bounced check" fee, or any other fees for bouncing the check.
Alternately, you can choose to recover the "bounced check" fee under Civil Code Section 1719. This allows you to recover the bounced check fee plus up to $1500 as an additional penalty. Usually, this $1500 + fee is much less than what you would recover under the Labor Code.
In both of these cases, the employer can provide proof that the mistake was not their fault and it will eliminate the penalty.
If your employer is issuing bad checks, I would recommend that you complain to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
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