Q:

Can my employer keep my last paycheck?

A:

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that employers are not required by federal law to give a former employee a final paycheck immediately, except where stipulated by state law. However, employers cannot withhold an employee's final paycheck beyond the normal pay period covering the last time the employee worked without risking legal action on the employee's part to recover the wages due.

The Illinois Department of Labor notes that an employer cannot keep an employee's final paycheck until the employee returns company property. The employer may be able to deduct the cost of the company property from an employee's final paycheck; this depends on the circumstances surrounding the issue and the governing state's laws concerning employer wage deductions. In some states, to make this kind of deduction from wages, the employer would need the employee to sign a wage deduction agreement. Otherwise the employer can invoice the former employee for the cost of items or pursue legal recourse in small claims court.

The U.S. Department of Labor explains that an employee who does not receive a timely final paycheck in accordance with state and federal law can contact the governing state's department of labor or the federal department of labor's wage and hour division for assistance.


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