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Employment Law/Extended Length of time between paychecks


I am writing on behalf of my husband's son.  He works for a company that refurbishes bathrooms.  Some of his jobs take him as far away from home as 300 miles and he uses his own vehicle, gas & pays for a motel.  The job he is currently working on has already taken 6 weeks of his time, yet the only reimbursement/pay he has received was for a 9-day period.  They currently owe him approximately $3,500 but they make a habit of not paying their workers until the job is completely finished.  In the meantime, he must live off his savings.  I do not believe what they're doing is legal.  Can you tell me if I am right?  He told me he never signed any kind of agreement with regard to this policy.  Thank you very much for your expertise and any help you can provide.


You are correct.  California law requires, except in specific industries not including the one in which your husband's son works, that employers pay wages to their employees no less than twice per month on the regular payday.

The following quotation is copied from the website of the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE):

"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."

An employer who fails to pay wages within these time limits can be assessed a penalty by the state, in addition to being required to pay the overdue wages.

Your husband's son should definitely pursue this issue with the DLSE.  Here is a link to their website where you will find pages explaining how a state wage claim can be filed, and what information is required.

If he wishes, he can retain an attorney experienced in handling California wage/hour claims.  This is usually a very good idea, as an attorney can help him work with the DLSE and also be his advocate with the employer.  Please note, the employer is prohibited by state and federal law from taking any retaliatory action against an employee for filing a DLSE wage complaint or a similar claim with the U.S. Department of Labor.  If you don't know a lawyer with this type of experience, you can do a couple of things.  First, put the name of the city or county where your husband's son works and the words "bar association attorney referral" into your preferred search engine and you'll find the local bar association web site, where you can get him linked up with an attorney who has the right experience.  Or, just put in the words "California wage and hour lawyers" and you'll get many links to web sites maintained by law firms and solo practitioners who specialize in handling wage/hour claims for California employees.

I hope this is helpful to you.  

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Frank C. Magill


I can answer questions about any U.S. labor or employment law question. I cannot answer questions about non-US law. I am not a specialist in employee benefit law (ERISA and HIPAA) or Workers' Compensation law, but will do my best to point questioners toward good resources availabe online. Expertise includes, without limitation, EEO/Affirmative Action/Employment discrimination (Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, GINA, Fair Credit Reporting Act as applied to employment); Fair Labor Standards Act; Texas labor code; Family Medical Leave Act; employee compensation; discipline and dismissal; force reductions, severance pay programs and administration; collective bargaining, union representation, grievances and arbitration, National Labor Relations Act and National Labor Relations Board; employee handbooks; staffing; dispute resolution outside of traditional labor agreements; employee communications; employment policies and compliance programs; codes of ethics; employment or labor litigation.


30+ years experience as corporate counsel for a Fortune 100 telecom company, specializing in labor and employment law issues. In addition to providing day-to-day advice to my company's internal HR leadership and staff, I've represented the company in numerous labor arbitration cases and at the bargaining table.

Texas, Illinois and Missouri state bars

J.D. 1979, Harvard Law School. B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1976, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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