How Long Does an Employer Have to Correct a Paycheck Error in California

Title: How Long Does an Employer Have to Correct a Paycheck Error in California?


Paycheck errors can be frustrating for employees, especially when it comes to receiving the correct amount of wages. In California, there are specific regulations in place to protect workers’ rights and ensure timely resolution of paycheck errors. This article aims to shed light on the timeframe within which employers must correct paycheck errors and provide some frequently asked questions related to this topic.

Understanding the Timeline for Correcting Paycheck Errors in California:

California Labor Code Section 204 requires employers to pay employees at least twice a month on specific dates. If any errors occur in an employee’s paycheck, it is crucial for the employer to rectify the issue within a reasonable timeframe. The state’s labor laws provide a clear timeline for employers to correct paycheck errors.

According to California Labor Code Section 210, when an employer fails to pay wages due to an error, they have a maximum of 72 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, to correct the mistake from the time the employee notifies them. However, if the error is unintentional and the employer can show good faith efforts to promptly correct the mistake, they may have an additional 30 days to rectify the error.

FAQs Regarding Paycheck Errors in California:

Q1: What should an employee do if they discover a paycheck error?

If an employee discovers a paycheck error, they should immediately notify their employer about the issue. It is advisable to keep a record of the communication, such as emails or written letters, to have evidence of reporting the error.

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Q2: What happens if an employer fails to rectify a paycheck error within the specified timeframe?

If an employer fails to correct a paycheck error within the mandated timeframe, they may be liable for penalties. Under California Labor Code Section 210, the employer may owe the employee a penalty equivalent to one day of wages for each day the error remains uncorrected, up to a maximum of 30 days.

Q3: Can an employer legally deduct the amount of an overpayment from future wages to correct a paycheck error?

Yes, an employer can legally make deductions from future wages to recover an overpayment made due to a paycheck error. However, there are limitations to this practice. Employers must comply with California Labor Code Section 221, which prohibits employers from making deductions that would cause an employee’s wages to fall below the minimum wage.

Q4: Are there any exceptions to the timeframe for correcting paycheck errors?

Yes, there are exceptions to the timeline for correcting paycheck errors. Certain industries, such as motion picture production and agriculture, have specific regulations that may allow employers additional time to rectify paycheck errors. Additionally, if an error occurs due to a natural disaster or other unavoidable circumstances, the employer may be granted an extension to correct the mistake.

Q5: Can an employee take legal action if their employer fails to correct a paycheck error?

Yes, if an employer consistently fails to rectify paycheck errors or deliberately withholds wages, an employee may take legal action. They can file a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or pursue a private lawsuit against their employer to seek compensation for the unpaid wages and any associated penalties.

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It is essential for employers in California to promptly correct paycheck errors to comply with state labor laws and protect their employees’ rights. By adhering to the specified timeframe, employers can avoid potential penalties and maintain a positive work environment. Employees should be proactive in reporting paycheck errors and, if necessary, seek assistance from the appropriate authorities to ensure their rights are upheld.

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