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Agency Takes 2 Months to Pay Final Wages

August 06, 2000

Q: Are public agencies governed by the law that requires employers to pay an employee his accrued vacation, compensatory time and sick time within 72 hours after he resigns? Would the same requirement apply to an employee who retires?

Our government agency takes two months to pay unpaid wages after the employee leaves service.

--C.O., Los Angeles

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A: Although an employer generally must pay an employee all accrued wages and accrued benefits within 72 hours after the employee resigns or retires, certain industries and governments are exempt.

These include the state of California and any county, incorporated city or town or other municipal corporation. Some government agencies have their own rules and penalties for failure to pay final wages by a certain date after termination.

You should ask your agency if there are any rules or deadlines for paying final wages. You might check with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement or the federal Department of Labor for additional information.

Accrued benefits would normally include accrued vacation time, but not sick time unless a contract specifies otherwise. There are penalties for employers who are covered by these rules and fail to follow them. If an employer willfully fails to pay final wages as required, it may be assessed "waiting-time" penalties in addition to the unpaid wages. The penalties would be equal to the employee's daily wages for each day the wages remain unpaid, up to 30 days' pay.

--Don D. Sessions

Employee rights attorney

Mission Viejo

If you have a question about an on-the-job situation, please mail it to Shop Talk, Los Angeles Times, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, CA 92626; dictate it to (714) 966-7873; or e-mail it to shoptalk@latimes.com. Include your initials and hometown. The Shop Talk column is designed to answer questions of general interest. It should not be construed as legal advice.

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