My Job Isn’t Paying Me

In order to secure the necessities of life, nearly everyone must have a reliable source of income.  According to the online publication, Statista, the Civilian Labor Force of the United States (U.S.) specified that approximately 161 million people were unemployed but currently seeking work opportunities.  In today’s society, the consensus is to fully devote yourself to a job that you absolutely love. However, for most people, this is not the case.  A job is simply a means to an end.  So, before you follow your heart and quit the position you’ve held for the past five years, let’s consider these points.

It’s no secret that there are certain statutes in place that can affect your pay. Because of this, it is important to understand how both you and your employer’s decision-making can alter your wages.  There are many circumstances that can affect your pay such as being terminated, laid off, or quitting (with or without notice). Whatever the case may be, you are entitled to know your rights concerning your income. When it comes to employment law, it is vital to know what constitutes unpaid wages and how to best avoid it if possible.


Each state has its own protocol for handling missed or late payments.  As per California Labor Code (CLC) 201 section (a), if you are dismissed by your employer, the wages you’ve accrued that are unpaid at the time of discharge are immediately due and payable.  Furthermore, if the previous employee requests that their payment is made via mail, it shall be granted.  In accordance with section (b) under CLC 201, the state employee shall assume to make an immediate payment of wages for any unused annual or holiday leave and vacation days.  In reference to time off compensation, certain limitations apply.  For instance, an employee is entitled to time off pay if they have worked overtime, and compensation for time off was already established and agreed upon by the company.  Please keep in mind that this must have occurred at least five work days prior to the employee’s final day of employment. In lieu of this statute, the employee must submit a written notice authorizing the state to tender payment to the employee’s account in a state-sponsored retirement plan (see Sections 401(k) , 403(b) , or 457 of the Internal Revenue Code for more information).

California’s labor laws protect all workers, regardless of immigration status. Now that you understand your rights according to California’s labor laws, let’s explore what happens if an employer violates wage laws and you never receive compensation. In this case, you can:

  • Send a written notice. Writing a notice to request wages from your employer that can be tracked physically and/or digitally can drastically improve your case.
  • File a claim. If you have not received compensation for your work, you can file a claim with your state’s labor department.
  • Check employee manual and agreement. After you’ve completed onboarding, most companies give their new employees a handbook and a copy of their contract that carefully explains different aspects of their job performance, payment, and any termination clauses.
  • Hire an attorney. If your situation is more complex regarding payday laws, wrongful termination, and other special circumstances surrounding leaving your place of employment, a skilled employment attorney can help.

An employer who willfully fails to pay any wages to a terminated employee in the authorized time frame may be evaluated for a waiting time penalty. This condition is upheld regardless of how an employee leaves their job. Based on a report by, “the waiting time penalty is an amount equal to the employee’s daily rate of pay for each day the wages remain unpaid, up to a maximum of thirty (30) calendar days.”

Nonetheless, if an employee follows their heart onward to something better or were terminated by their employer, there’s one thing that’s clear… workers in California and across the United States should receive the wages they are owed by their employers.