Jan 31 2023
The end of an employment relationship, whether it was unexpected or voluntary, can come with several questions about what comes next. One of these questions is likely, “When will I get my last paycheck?”
Connecticut has several wage payment laws that govern how and when employees must be paid. The Connecticut Department of Labor (“DOL”) is the state agency tasked with enforcing these laws.
Involuntary Separation (“I was fired or laid off”)
Generally, under Connecticut law, an employer must issue a final paycheck to a terminated employee no later than the next business day after the termination. (C.G.S. §31-71c.)
With recent layoffs making national news, impacted employees may be wondering how wage payment laws apply to them. Any employee impacted by a company layoff is entitled to their last paycheck on the next regularly scheduled payday following the layoff. (C.G.S. §31-71c.)
How do I know if I was terminated or laid off?
Unsure whether you’ve been terminated or laid off? There may be cues from your manager or HR about the reasons for letting you go. A termination is usually a firing for reasons specific to you (you may be informed that a violation of company policy or poor performance led to the decision) but the company still has a need for the position and will fill the role. A layoff typically involves the company eliminating a position for reasons outside of the employee’s control (you may be told the decision is based on downsizing, restructuring, or a merger). Another indicator is if multiple workers were affected at once, your job loss is likely part of a layoff.
Voluntary Separation (“I quit”)
An employee who quits must receive their final paycheck on the next regularly scheduled payday. (C.G.S. §31-71c.)
What if I quit but did not give a full two-weeks’ notice?
If you are an at-will employee – meaning both the employer or employee have the right to end the relationship at any time, for any lawful reason or no reason, with or without notice – whether you provided the requisite notice or not, your employer must pay your wages for the hours you worked by the next regular payday and cannot withhold your wages on these grounds.
What if we disagree over the wages owed?
If there is any dispute over the wages owed, the employer must pay (within the timeframes outlined above) all undisputed wages and employees may then pursue their rights through the DOL for any remaining disputed wages. (C.G.S. §31-71d.)
Can my employer deduct from my last paycheck for money it claims I owe?
No – there are very limited circumstances in which an employer can withhold or divert any part of an employee’s wages. (C.G.S. §31-71e.) Your employer may not, for example, withhold wages from your last paycheck if they claim you owe money for training, uniforms, or other company property. Further, while you should make every effort to return company property promptly, your employer may not withhold your last paycheck until you return company property such as a laptop, badge, or keys.
What if I didn’t get my last paycheck?
Connecticut employers face an array of civil or criminal penalties for violations of wage payment laws. (C.G.S. §31-69a; §31-71g; §31-72.) If an employer fails to issue a final paycheck within the required timeframe under the law, employees can recover twice the full amount of wages owed either through filing a claim with the DOL or a lawsuit. Further, employers in violation of these laws may be required to pay various financial penalties to the DOL.
If you have questions about your final paycheck, please contact the Connecticut employment lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti. We’re here to help.