This concerns an employer and salaried job in California, with usual pay periods twice per month. The employer pays everyone two weeks too late and doesn't post a payday notice. That is, they pay on the last day of the month for work done between the 1st and 15th of the previous month, and on the 15th of the month for work done between the 16th and the last day of the previous month.

According to California law this is a misdemeanor.

Is this acceptable practice, should I do something about it, if so what can I do? Or should I just accept it as something that's just common practice? Considering California is an "at will" state, retaliation is all too easy. I know the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement can help. But I suspect this could backfire. I also understand it's only a few days of late pay, but I believe in the principle of the matter.

A previous California employee was always quick to pay at the end of the month or the 15th, for work done the previous two weeks. In my experience the two weeks late pay is not common practice, but I have only had a couple of Californian employers.


In California, wages, with some exceptions, must be paid at least twice during each calendar month on the days designated in advance as regular paydays.

Labor Code Section 207 Wages earned between the 1st and 15th days, inclusive, of any calendar month must be paid no later than the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed, and wages earned between the 16th and last day of the month must be paid by the 10th day of the following month. Other payroll periods such as weekly, biweekly (every two weeks) or semimonthly (twice per month) when the earning period is something other than between the 1st and 15th, and 16th and last day of the month, must be paid within seven calendar days of the end of the payroll period within which the wages were earned. Labor Code Section 204

  1. Q. If my employer does not pay me on my regularly scheduled payday, what can I do?

    A. You should contact the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and explain that your employer is not paying you on the regularly scheduled paydays. DLSE will assist you by explaining the law to your employer. Failure to post the payday notice required by Labor Code Section 207, and failure to pay wages in good funds on the regular designated payday as prescribed in Labor Code Sections 204, 204b, 205, and 209, respectively, is a misdemeanor. Labor Code Section 215

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    It looks like you've answered your own question. :) – thursdaysgeek Dec 28 '13 at 1:00
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    I would first check with the labor board to see if they allow anonymous complaints, if you fear retaliation. – thursdaysgeek Dec 28 '13 at 1:02
  • Has this been brought to the attention of the HR dept at all? It seems a simple enough oversight, especially if the company is multi-state or international. – AthomSfere Dec 28 '13 at 1:12
  • They're paying 5-6 days late, not two weeks, if I'm understanding correctly. My California employer is similar, but for days 1-15 pays on the 25th and for days 16-end of month on the 10th. – mkennedy Dec 28 '13 at 15:48
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    Anything that is a misdemeanor isn't acceptable behavior. You will have to make a decision, is not being paid a big enough deal, that losing your job is an acceptable risk? Even if you are terminated in CA, you have certain rights, and being fired for making DLSE aware of your situation, likely is wrongful termination. – Donald Dec 30 '13 at 13:38

Contact the company's HR department via email in a polite manner just asking for clarification.

As a mid-level executive for a California company I can tell you that as much as it's an at-will state most HR departments are scared to death about wrongful termination lawsuits. We need to have a lot of ducks lined up before HR will sign off on terminating someone so as to ensure that, if it does go to litigation, it is clear as a bell that we did not terminate that person because of a "protected characteristic" (race, religion, sexual preference, etc).

Furthermore, if you worked for me I couldn't care less if HR was mad at you because you called them out on some unfair payment practices. Heck, I'd take you out for a beer and give you my parking spot for a month.

But specifically, I would address it this way:

  1. Ask HR, in writing (email) what's going on in a nice way. Say something like "I thought we were supposed to get paid no later than 11 days after a pay period, maybe I'm wrong about that?"
  2. If HR doesn't rectify or clarify the situation for you in enough detail and it's going to get drawn out, give your manager a heads up that you're talking to them about it. You don't need to do this, but I'd appreciate it if one of my employees did that for me.
  3. If HR doesn't do things right, contact the Labor Board. HR employees have a job to do and they either need to explain to you why what they're doing is okay, or fix it.

Good on you for addressing this.

  • Thanks, very helpful. Company's rather small though so roles of HR, manager et al can be filled by one person. There is no easy neither a single answer, but I marked yours as accepted. – aseq Dec 30 '13 at 22:41
  • In that case, I'd definitely make sure you do it with a bit of tact and have everything in writing. With a one person HR shop it's probably he or she simply doesn't know the rules, or is too busy to deal with them. I'd definitely advise being cordial but keeping records of discussions and email as much as you can. – Eric Dec 30 '13 at 23:16

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