Back to News

Pay Stub Violations in California

Pay Stub Violations in California

California employment law has various requirements as to what information must be included on an employee’s pay stub (example here). A wage statement must accurately represent the number of hours an employee worked along with their pay rate and any deductions taken during the pay period. If any information is inaccurate or left out, an employer may face penalties for pay stub violations under California law.

What Are Pay Stub Violations?

An employer violates California labor laws by not providing a pay stub/wage statement with an employee’s regular pay. Several types of information are required, whether an employee is paid by check, in cash, or by direct deposit. If any details are willfully left out, incomplete, or inaccurate, an employee may be entitled to seek legal damages. California has one of the strictest payroll laws in the nation. While the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t include a pay stub requirement, it does require employers to keep records of work hours and wages paid.

What Information Is Required to Be on Pay stubs?

According to California labor laws, the following details must be provided to meet minimum requirements.

  • Payment period: The start and end dates of the pay period must be clearly stated.
  • Gross wages: The total pay to an employee before any deductions.
  • Total hours worked: The total number of hours worked must be included, unless the employee is compensated on a salary or is classified as “exempt” under California wage and hour law.
  • All deductions: Must be itemized on a separate section of the pay stub, and can include federal, state, and local income taxes, Social Security/Medicare taxes, health insurance, and retirement contributions.
  • Net wages: Gross pay after appropriate deductions are subtracted, otherwise known as take-home pay.
  • Applicable hourly rates: The hourly rates in effect during the pay period, and the number of hours worked at each rate (if the employee’s hourly rates varied), must be listed.
  • Employee name: An employee’s full name must be provided on any pay stub.
  • Last 4 Digits of Employee Social Security Number: A workers’ employee ID number may be provided as an alternative.
  • Employer’s name and physical address: The wage statement must state the legal name of the employer and its address. In the case of farm labor contractors, the document must include the name/address of the legal entity that secured an employer’s services.


Pursuing a Legal Claim for Employer Pay Stub Violations

If your pay stub has missing or incorrect information, your employer may have violated California labor laws. It is then possible to file a lawsuit against your employer. However, the law also gives companies room to correct errors, such as pay period dates, names, and addresses. Correcting a mistake can avoid penalties. But if the employer failed to provide a wage statement or correct any inaccurate or incomplete information, you may be entitled to damages.

Under state employment law, violations may result in penalties against an employer and compensation to workers for attorney’s fees, court costs, and any injury an employee suffers due to non-compliance. If there are multiple violations, an employer is liable for the initial and each subsequent violation. There are also statutes in place to address when pay stub laws for multiple employees are violated, which can lead to a class action lawsuit.

How Do Pay stubs Work?

Pay stubs, also known as paycheck stubs or wage statements, are documents that employers provide to their employees along with their paychecks. These documents serve several purposes, including providing a detailed breakdown of an employee’s earnings and deductions, ensuring transparency in the payment process, and assisting employees in tracking their income and taxes. Here’s how paystubs work:

  1. Earnings and Pay Period Information: Paystubs typically include the following information:
    • Employee’s name
    • Employer’s name and address
    • Employee identification or payroll number
    • Pay period start and end dates
    • Payment date (the date the paycheck is issued)
  2. Gross Earnings: Paystubs show an employee’s gross earnings for the pay period. This includes their hourly rate or salary and the number of hours worked or the fixed salary for that period. Overtime pay and bonuses may also be included.
  3. Deductions: Paystubs detail various deductions that reduce an employee’s gross earnings to determine the net pay. Common deductions include:
    • Federal income tax
    • State income tax
    • Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes
    • Health insurance premiums
    • Retirement contributions
    • Other voluntary deductions (e.g., for a 401(k) plan or union dues)
  4. Taxes Withheld: Paystubs provide a summary of the taxes withheld from an employee’s paycheck, including federal and state income tax, as well as Social Security and Medicare taxes. The paystub may also show the amount of tax withheld for the entire year-to-date.
  5. Net Pay: The net pay is the final amount an employee receives after all deductions. It represents the actual amount the employee will take home.
  6. Year-to-Date (YTD) Information: Paystubs often include year-to-date summaries, showing the cumulative earnings, deductions, and taxes withheld since the beginning of the calendar year.
  7. Additional Information: Some paystubs may include other relevant information, such as the employer’s contact information, information about paid time off (e.g., vacation or sick leave balances), or details about bonuses or commissions.
  8. Compliance and Legal Requirements: Paystubs must comply with federal and state labor laws. Many states, including California, have specific requirements for paystub content and format. Employers are legally obligated to provide paystubs to their employees.
  9. Digital Paystubs: Some employers provide digital paystubs accessible through an online portal, while others issue physical paper paystubs. Digital paystubs often have the same information as paper paystubs and may be available for download or viewing online.

Employees should carefully review their paystubs to ensure accuracy and to understand their earnings, deductions, and tax withholding. If there are any discrepancies or questions, employees should contact their employer’s payroll or HR department for clarification or resolution.


Paystub Requirements in California

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, California has specific requirements for paystubs that employers must adhere to. These requirements are outlined in the California Labor Code and the California Wage Orders. Please note that laws can change, so it’s essential to consult the most up-to-date legal sources or a legal professional for the latest information. Here are the key requirements for paystubs in California:

  1. Employee Information:
    • Employee’s name
    • Last four digits of the employee’s Social Security number (or a unique employee identification number)
    • The name and address of the employer (including the legal entity’s name if it is different from the employer’s business name)
  2. Earnings Information:
    • Gross wages earned during the pay period
    • Total hours worked by the employee, if applicable
  3. Deductions:
    • Itemized deductions made from the employee’s gross wages, including withholdings for:
      • Federal income tax
      • State income tax
      • Social Security (OASDI)
      • Medicare
      • State disability insurance (SDI) or paid family leave (PFL), if applicable
      • Health insurance premiums
      • Retirement plan contributions
      • Wage garnishments or other deductions, if applicable
  4. Net Pay:
    • The final amount of take-home pay after all deductions
  5. Pay Period Information:
    • The inclusive dates of the pay period
    • The payment date
  6. Accruals and Use of Paid Sick Leave:
    • For employers who provide paid sick leave, the paystub must also include the amount of paid sick leave available or the amount of paid time off (PTO) an employee has accrued, used, or remains available.
  7. Hours Worked:
    • The paystub should specify the total hours worked by non-exempt employees. This requirement helps ensure accurate payment for overtime hours.
  8. Additional Information:
    • Some paystubs may include other relevant information, such as paid time off balances (e.g., vacation or sick leave), or details about bonuses or commissions.
  9. Compliance and Penalties:
    • Employers must provide accurate and complete paystubs to employees with each paycheck.
    • Failure to comply with these requirements can result in penalties, and employees may be entitled to recover damages if they don’t receive compliant paystubs.

It’s crucial for employers in California to ensure that their paystubs meet these requirements. Compliance with paystub regulations helps provide transparency and clarity in the employer-employee relationship and avoids legal issues related to non-compliance. Employees should review their paystubs to ensure accuracy and compliance with these requirements.


Contact Lawyers for Justice

If you have experienced pay stub violations at work, contact us to speak to our wage and hour violation attorney. Lawyers for Justice, PC serves all of Southern California and is conveniently located in Glendale. Our knowledge of California employment law empowers us to help assess your situation, build a claim, and obtain the compensation you deserve. To speak to a wage and hour lawyer in Los Angeles, call 818-647-9323 and receive your free consultation.


Paystub FAQ

is an earnings statement a pay stub? Yes, both terms refer to an employee’s wages paid to them.

is a payslip the same as a pay stub? Yes, a pay stub and a pay slip refer to the same document that reflect information like net wages earned, gross wages paid, the initial pay period, and other pertinent legal information.

how often are paycheck stubs provided? Pay stubs are provided every pay period. Pay periods depend on the company. Usually a biweekly, semimonthly, weekly, or monthly per periods are common.

are employers required to give pay stubs? Employers in California are legally required to provide employees with an itemized wage statement.

can employer charge for copies of paystubs? California law states that employees have free access to paper copies/hard copies of their wage statements.

what does retro mean on a paystub? “Retro” is short for retroactive. Retro pay is compensation added to an employee’s paycheck to make up for compensation that was not paid in a previous pay period.

Attorney advertisement by Edwin Aiwazian of Lawyers For Justice, PC, headquartered at 410 Arden Avenue, Glendale, CA 91203