Question: Last week a cook quit in the middle of a shift. He hasn't been back and I haven't been able to reach him to give him his final paycheck - can I just drop it in the mail?
Answer: Anthony Zaller, an employment litigation attorney at Van Vleck Tuner & Zaller LLP, states that there are specific guidelines about how and when employers should deliver final wages.
Generally, if the employee is terminated, any owed wages are due both at the time and place of termination. When an employee quits, the most important factor is how much notice the employee gives. Wages and accruals are due within 72 hours of notice, so an employee who gives that much notice beforehand can expect all wages to be paid on the last day of work.
If the employee gives less than 72 hours of notice, wages will be due 72 hours after time of notice.
If an employee walks off the job, it is typically best to have the owed wages and accruals ready as soon as possible, and notify the employee that the wages are being held. This is preferable to mailing, in the case where there could be waiting-time penalties involved if the employee does not receive the wages within a timely manner.
Waiting time penalties can accrue to 30 days of regular employee pay if the employer fails to pay out back wages within the acceptable period of time.