California Labor Code § 204 mandates that employers pay their workers twice a month on paydays designated in advance (with some exceptions). Also, overtime wages must be paid by the second regular payday after the overtime work occurred.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
204. (a) All wages, other than those mentioned in Section 201, 201.3, 202, 204.1, or 204.2, earned by any person in any employment are due and payable twice during each calendar month, on days designated in advance by the employer as the regular paydays. Labor performed between the 1st and 15th days, inclusive, of any calendar month shall be paid for between the 16th and the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed, and labor performed between the 16th and the last day, inclusive, of any calendar month, shall be paid for between the 1st and 10th day of the following month. However, salaries of executive, administrative, and professional employees of employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, as set forth pursuant to Section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended through March 1, 1969, in Part 541 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as that part now reads or may be amended to read at any time hereafter, may be paid once a month on or before the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed if the entire month’s salaries, including the unearned portion between the date of payment and the last day of the month, are paid at that time.
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, all wages earned for labor in excess of the normal work period shall be paid no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period.
(2) An employer is in compliance with the requirements of subdivision (a) of Section 226 relating to total hours worked by the employee, if hours worked in excess of the normal work period during the current pay period are itemized as corrections on the paystub for the next regular pay period. Any corrections set out in a subsequently issued paystub shall state the inclusive dates of the pay period for which the employer is correcting its initial report of hours worked.
(c) However, when employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides different pay arrangements, those arrangements shall apply to the covered employees.
(d) The requirements of this section shall be deemed satisfied by the payment of wages for weekly, biweekly, or semimonthly payroll if the wages are paid not more than seven calendar days following the close of the payroll period.
(e) Notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 220, all wages earned by employees directly employed by the Regents of the University of California shall be paid on a regular payday. For the employees on a monthly payment schedule, payment is due no later than five days after the close of the monthly payroll period. For employees on a more frequent payment schedule, payment is due according to the pay schedule announced by the University of California in advance. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Regents of the University of California from allowing its employees to choose to distribute their pay so that they will receive paychecks throughout the year, rather than during pay periods worked only.
With few exceptions, California Labor Code 204 LC requires California businesses to pay their employees twice a month (“semi-monthly”). And the employer must designate in advance which days will be the payday.
Specifically, employees must receive their wages by the 26th day of the month for any wage earned between the 1st and 15th of that month. And wages earned from the 15th to the 31st of the month must be paid before the 10th day of the following month.
However, employers can wait two payroll regular periods rather than one to pay overtime wages. This way, employers have extra time to pay for overtime hours they may not have anticipated.1
Note that employers who fail to pay their employees on time face financial penalties under Labor Code 210.
See our related article, How often do California employer have to pay sales commissions?
- California Labor Code 204 LC – Semi-monthly payment; Designation of regular paydays; Executive, administrative, and professional employees; Arrangements under collective bargaining agreements; Employees of Regents of University of California. See also Oman v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. (Cal., 2020), 264 Cal. Rptr. 3d 20, 466 P.3d 325, 9 Cal. 5th 762; See’s Candy Shops, Inc. v. Superior Court (Cal. App. 4th Dist., 2012), 210 Cal. App. 4th 889, 148 Cal. Rptr. 3d 690.