State payday laws determine how frequently an employee must be paid, but not all states have such requirements. In Alabama and South Carolina, for example, employers with more than five employees are only required to give written notice to employees about pay periods. Many state laws governing paydays have exceptions for certain types of businesses and/or employees. Also, workers who are properly classified as "independent contractors" are not covered, with payment terms typically spelled out in the written contract.
Below is a general primer on your rights (or lack thereof) to a regular and timely paycheck under state laws.
See FindLaw's Wages and Benefits subsection for related resources.
Payday Laws in General
While laws governing the frequency and regularity of paychecks vary from state to state, most states operate in a similar manner. For example, all states (with the exception of Alabama and South Carolina) mandate weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly payments. Additionally, most states require employers to provide notice of payday requirements to their employees.
Some states make distinctions among different industries or between public-sector and private-sector employees. For instance, workers employed by a farm labor contractor in California must be paid at least once every week on a designated business day. Private-sector employees in Hawaii must be paid at least once a month, while public-sector Hawaiian employees are entitled to a semimonthly paycheck.
Your Right to a Timely Paycheck
See FindLaw's State Pay Day Requirements chart provides a state-by-state comparison of specific payday requirements and laws government pay frequency. Some examples are included below:
What to Do if Your Paycheck is Late
Each state has its own procedure for what to do in the case of a missed or late paycheck. But in general, you may do the following if for some reason you are not paid on time or on a regular basis:
Haven't Gotten Your Paycheck? Talk to a Local Attorney
Employers don't have the luxury to pay their workers whenever or however they please -- they're bound by certain federal and state laws. If your paycheck is late, it could affect your ability to pay bills and could cause a chain reaction of unfortunate events. Protect your rights by consulting with an experienced employment attorney near you.