Wage & Hour Laws -- Employee

What are the rules on final paychecks in Wisconsin?

For workers throughout Wisconsin, the question of how their final paycheck is paid is asked very often. The state has a number of rules on exactly when a final paycheck should be paid, how it is transferred, and what – if any – deductions an employer can make from it.

For employees and employers, it is important to know these rules. The process of leaving a job can be stressful and overwhelming, so it pays to be aware of what your rights are when it comes to receiving your final paycheck.

What are Wisconsin’s rules on when final paychecks should be paid?

Final paychecks must be paid by employers in a timely manner, covering all wages that a worker has earned but not yet been paid. Under Wisconsin state law, a final paycheck must be paid in full no later than the date the employee would usually have been paid as part of the company’s payroll schedule. The situation applies to both when an employee has quit their current job, and if they have been fired by their employer.

There is a special exception to this rule for employees who have lost their job as a result of an event such as:

  • A merger
  • The sale of the business
  • Relocation of the business elsewhere
  • The closure of the business

In this situation, an employer must pay the final paycheck within 24 hours of the employee’s departure.

Are unused vacation days included in a final paycheck in Wisconsin?

In common with many other states, Wisconsin doesn’t require that employers offer paid vacation days to employees. Of course, many employers still offer vacation, and this will almost certainly be a part of the employment contract that both parties signed. As a result, unless the employment contract says something different, unused vacation that is part of an employee’s contract will be considered as part of the unpaid wages. It should therefore be included in the final paycheck payment. It is advisable to speak with an experienced wage and hour attorney so that they can provide advice based on the particular facts of a case.

Can an employer withhold part of a final paycheck?

Wisconsin law says that deductions to wages – including the final paycheck – cannot be made for defective workmanship, lost or stolen property, or damage to property, unless:

  • The employee has expressly authorized the deduction in writing, or
  • The deducted amount is the result of the employee’s negligence,
  • carelessness or intentional actions.

If an employer makes deductions that are not authorized by these rules, they could be made to pay twice the amount of the deductions if an employee starts a civil action.

What can an employee do if they do not receive their final paycheck?

If an employer fails to follow Wisconsin’s rules on final paychecks, the employee can make a claim for all unpaid wages with the state’s Department of Workforce Development. This claim must be made within two years of the date they earned the wages.

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