Final Paycheck

My Final Paycheck—What am I Owed When I’m Terminated?

There are many questions to be asked when your employment ends, whether that be through a termination, lay-off, or your resignation. One such question is: when will you receive your final paycheck, and how much will you be compensated in that check? Below I briefly outline what when you are entitled to your final paycheck, and what you must be compensated for in that check, pursuant to Massachusetts wage laws.

As an initial matter, unless you have a golden-parachute clause in your employment contract, an employer is not required to provide you a severance payment. You are often only entitled to a severance when you are an executive level employee. Even if other employees have received severance, or you have worked for the company for a decade, Massachusetts law does not require a company make a severance payment.

When Will My Former Employer Pay Me My Last Paycheck?

Massachusetts law is clear; if you were terminated or laid-off, you are owed your last paycheck on the same day. If you quit, you are owed your final paycheck by the next regularly scheduled payday. So, if you normally are paid every Friday, and you quit, you should receive your last paycheck on that Friday. To reiterate, if you are not paid your last paycheck on the day of your termination, your employer has violated Massachusetts wage laws. If your employer is late in providing you your final paycheck, or the check is not for your full wages, you should immediately contact an employment attorney at Keches Law Group.

You may be entitled to more than just your normal hourly or salaried wages in your last check. An employee is also owed their earned but unused vacation time at the same time. If you have two weeks of vacation, you are entitled under Massachusetts law to those two weeks in a lump-sum payment at the time of your final paycheck. Employers sometimes have poorly drafted vacation policies where an employee is entitled to vacation time on their work anniversary or immediately upon hire. Under such policies, even if the employee only worked a few days, or you just accrued your two weeks of vacation last week, they are entitled to be paid for all their vacation time. Note that employees are not entitled to be paid for unused sick time.

What About My Commission?

Lastly, commissions can often be a point of contention when an employee is terminated or quits their employment. Is an employee’s commission due to them or do they lose it? This is not always the easiest question to answer, but Massachusetts law provides some protections for the employee. If a commission is definitely determinable, and due and payable to the employee, it is a wage owed to the employee that the employer must pay. In other words, if the employee is owed the commission, and the commission can be arithmetically determined, then it is a wage and must be paid to the employee. Sometimes employers will refer to this type of payment as a bonus, but legally it is a commission.

Massachusetts wage laws are complicated but provide strong protections to employees, and permit an employee to recover treble (triple) damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees. If you feel you were not paid the wages you are owed, or were not properly compensated on the day of your termination, contact the attorneys at Keches Law Group for a free consultation.

If you have questions about what you are owed after termination, call our toll-free at 617-898-0808, or visit us online for a free consultation.