WAGE PAYMENT AND COLLECTION ACT: MORE TIME TO PAY DISCHARGED EMPLOYEES IN WEST VIRGINIA?
If West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signs a bill currently on his desk, West Virginia employers will have more time to pay final wages to discharged employees. Prior to its pending amendment, the Wage Payment and Collection Act required that employers pay discharged employees within 72 hours of termination. Senate Bill 355, approved by West Virginia’s Legislature, instead requires payment to discharged employees no later than the next regular payday or four business days, whichever comes first. “Business days” include days on which state offices are open for regular business. Payment is to be made through regular pay channels or, if requested by the discharged employee, by mail.
Post-amendment, an employer remains liable for three times the unpaid amount to an employee who is not timely paid. Timing of payments to employees who are laid off or resign is unchanged; payment must be made no later than the next regular payday. Click here to see the history and status of the bill on the West Virginia Legislature’s website.
The good intention behind the amendment was to provide employers with some relief from the draconian 72-hour rule. Unfortunately, the result in action is not as kind. Suppose the employee is discharged on the Wednesday before a Friday payroll. Under the next regular payday or four business days, whichever comes first, rule, the employer now has two days to provide that last paycheck. As a result, the best practice is still to try to have the final paycheck ready for a discharge meeting.