California Paystub Law (2023)

You can recover penalties if your employer refuses to give paystubs

A paystub is a breakdown of an employee’s earnings in a pay period. Although federal labor law does not require employers to provide pay stubs to employees, California paystub law requires employers give an “itemized wage statement” or paystub for each pay period (a standard pay period is 2 weeks).

What if your employer refuses to give pay stubs? There are penalties for employers not giving paystubs:

Penalties for Not Giving Paystubs

In California, an employer that refuses to give paystubs to an employee may incur a civil penalty of $50 for the first pay period in which no paystub was provided, and $100 in each pay period after that, up to a maximum of $4,000 per employee. California employment law empowers employees to collect labor penalties on behalf of the State of California, including for violations of California paystub law.

More on Paystub Law

9 Major Paystub RequirementsCan employer require direct deposit?
How to request payroll recordsElectronic Paystub Requirements
Paystubs and Under-the-Table PayOvertime on Paystubs

Your employer not giving paystubs?

If your employer refuses to provide you with paystubs as required under California labor law, you may be eligible to recover penalties. Contact us for a free consultation.


California Paystub Requirements (2023)

California labor law requires that paystubs be itemized, and include the following information:

  1. Employee name and last four digits of Social Security Number (SSN) or Employee ID Number (EIN)
  2. What pay period the paystub is for
  3. Gross wages (without deductions) for the pay period
  4. Total hours worked by the employee
  5. Breakdown of regular vs. overtime hours
  6. All deductions (tax withholdings, 401(k) contributions)
  7. Net wages earned (gross wages minus deductions)
  8. Name and address of the employer
  9. Amount of sick leave and vacation the employee has accrued.

Can an employer require direct deposit in California?

Under California Labor Code section 213, employers cannot require an employee to receive payment of wages by direct deposit.

A California employer can pay an employee by direct deposit only if the employee expressly consents. Otherwise, the employer must deliver paper checks or some other permitted form of payment of wages.

Requesting Your Payroll Records

Employers are required by California labor law to maintain copies of all employees’ paystubs for a period of up to three years.

If an employee requests payroll records, the California labor code requires employers to provide the requested records within 21 days. If the employer refuses to give paystub records, or provides them untimely (later than 21 days), the employee can collect California labor code penalties.

No paystub = you can recover penalties

Digital Paystubs

The California paystub-law statute, California Labor Code Section 226, does not discuss the requirements for digital or electronic paystubs. But the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement has issued some guidance concerning the content of electronic paystubs and employees’ access to them:

  • All electronic wage statements must include the same information required for paper paystubs;
  • Employers are required to maintain copies of digital paystubs for up to 3 years, just as with paper records;
  • Employers must allow employees the option of receiving paper paystubs instead of electronic ones;
  • Digital paystubs must be made accessible to employees at all times on a payroll website;
  • Employee access to the website must be free;
  • The website must be secured by a firewall and employee login requirements.

Are electronic paystubs for direct deposit allowed?

Itemized wage statements may be provided digitally, or on paper in a separate document, or as a detachable portion of the paycheck. Not only employees who receive paper checks, but also employees who receive paychecks through direct deposit, are entitled to receive paystubs from employers every pay period.

Under-the-Table Pay in Cash

cash paid under-the-table violating california paystub law

Employers sometimes offer to pay employees cash under the table. This means the employer does not deduct payroll taxes from the employee’s wages. The California Employment Development Department, however, warns that it’s illegal to pay an employee under the table, and it may harm the employee by subjecting them to tax audits. If an audit occurs, the California Employment Development Department says, employees paid under the table will be in big trouble because they won’t have paystubs or W-2’s to verify their earnings.

Overtime on Paystubs

California overtime law requires that employees get overtime wages any time they work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.

California labor law requires employers to properly record, on a paystub, any overtime hours an employee has worked and the dates on which the overtime occurred. If an employer refuses to give an employee a paystub listing their overtime hours, it is considered a violation of the California labor code. Employees may be able to recover a penalty of $50 for the first refusal to give a paystub, and $100 for every subsequent refusal, up to a maximum of $4,000 in penalties per employee.

Our California Paystub Lawyers

Steven Tindall

Steven specializes in employment litigation and has been lead or co-lead counsel on several cases that resulted in settlements of over $1 million.

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Linda Lam

Linda focuses her practice on representing consumers, small businesses, and employees in complex litigation.

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Steve Lopez

Steve represents consumers, employees, and whistleblowers harmed by corporate misconduct in a variety of complex litigation cases.

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Our California Employment Practice

Our California employment attorneys – with over 50 years of collective experience litigating under California employment law – know how to fight for employees’ rights and get them the money they deserve. We’ve recovered tens of millions of dollars for California employees and represent individuals as well as class actions in virtually every area of California employment and labor laws: California overtime law, off the clock violations in CA, breach of contract disputes, California independent contractor law, sexual harassment, employee misclassification, discrimination, as well as mass layoffs in violation of the California WARN Act. Our California employment lawyers are repeatedly recognized for their expertise litigating in California. Founding partner Eric Gibbs has been selected as one of the Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California. And seventeen of the firm’s attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, a distinction received by less than 5% of attorneys in Northern California.

About Us

Gibbs Law Group is a California-based law firm committed to protecting the rights of clients nationwide who have been harmed by corporate misconduct. We represent individuals, whistleblowers, employees, and small businesses across the U.S. against the world’s largest corporations. Our award-winning lawyers have achieved landmark recoveries and over a billion dollars for our clients in high-stakes class action and individual cases involving consumer protection, data breach, digital privacy, and federal and California employment lawsuits. Our attorneys have received numerous honors for their work, including “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California,” “Top Class Action Attorneys Under 40,” “Consumer Protection MVP,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “Top Cybersecurity/ Privacy Attorneys Under 40.”
titan of plaintiffs bar award
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chambers USA leading firms award
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No paystubs? You may be entitled to substantial penalties

If none of the employees at your company are given paystubs, you may be entitled to recover penalties on their behalf. Contact us for a free consultation. No obligation. Conversations are confidential.