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Employment Law/Withdraw wages in CA

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QUESTION: I get paid once a month on a 15th of every month for the period from 15th of the previous month to 14th of the current month (for 173.33 hours). Now my company wants to shift pay period to the 1st of previous month till last day of the previous month without changing our pay day. In spite of this change, they told us that during the next three months period they will withdraw portions of our wages (28.88 hours each pay period) to cover the two weeks gap (86.64 hours total). Is it legal in California? Also is it legal to pay on the 15th for the previous month?

ANSWER: Victoria - Your employer hasn't checked with an employment attorney before making this change, it seems.  Here is what the law says:

In California, wages, with some exceptions (see table below), must be paid at least twice during each calendar month on the days designated in advance as regular paydays. The employer must establish a regular payday and is required to post a notice that shows the day, time and location of payment. 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

The exceptions are these:

Executive, administrative and professional employees may be paid once a month on or before the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed if the entire month's salary, including the unearned portion between the date of payment and the last day of the month, is paid at that time. Such employees may be paid more frequently, however.  

There are also exceptions for workers employed by a farm labor contractor, employees in agriculture, horticulture and viticulture, stock or poultry raising, and household domestic service who are boarded and lodged by their employer, and employees of a motor vehicle dealer licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles who are paid commission wages (mechanics and other employees performing repair or related services are not considered commissioned employees.)

Unless you fall into one of the exceptions, you must be paid at least twice a month.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your answer.
But is it legal to hold out portions of my earned wages? I can't find any labor codes on this one.
I appreciate your help a lot.

Answer
Victoria - Because it is illegal to change your pay periods the way they propose, it is also illegal to withhold some of your salary in order to achieve the change in pay periods.  If it were simply a matter of adjusting your salary to reflect a legal change in your payroll schedule, it would be acceptable for them to make the adjustment.

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Margaret M. deMarteleire

Expertise

I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.

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Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

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Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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