When Must an Employer Provide a Terminated Employee with a Final Paycheck?

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It is inevitable…if you are an employer, you will eventually have to terminate an employee.  But, when it comes to a terminated employee’s final paycheck, you should ask yourself two things: (1) when must the final paycheck be provided to the employee; and (2) what must the paycheck include?  Under Florida law, employers are required to issue an employee’s last paycheck by the next regular pay period. 

What must be included in the check?  Florida law requires that all earned “wages” must be included in the final paycheck. Wages includes payment for all hours worked as well as unpaid but accrued bonuses and commissions.  Wages can also include unused, accrued sick, vacation, or paid time off (“PTO”) if your business has ever paid it out in the past or if your policies expressly grant such payments.

As a practical matter, your company should document its policy regarding paying out accrued but unused PTO.  This will avoid any potential issues or litigation with terminated employees.  You should also be mindful that if an employee is owed money post-termination and files a lawsuit against your company, you may be liable for such wages, attorney’s fees, and costs under Florida Statute 448.08.   

Before you terminate your next employee, you should check with an employment attorney to determine whether your decision could subject your business to liability.  Our attorneys at Wilson McCoy, P.A. are available to help you and your small business make sound employment-related decisions.