Payment of wages is a regulation of both federal and state law. A check that consists of wage payments is called a paycheck. Distribution laws for paychecks guarantee that employees are paid for the work or service they provided a company and that their paychecks are not withheld. Paycheck laws also require that employers make employees aware of any deductions they are taking out of their paychecks.

When you receive your paycheck, the amount of your gross pay and net pay are not the same. This is because your employer is required by law to take out certain deductions. These requirements include federal and state taxes and Social Security. If you live in a city that requires city taxes, then local taxes are taken out as well. Courts might also instruct employers to take out deductions for child support or garnishments that were awarded. Some deductions might not be taken out of your paycheck unless you agree to them. These include money your employer thinks you owe the company, your employer's share of withholding taxes, and amounts other parties or collection agencies think you owe them but are not yet approved by courts on which to collect.

Terminated Employees

Even though employees must be paid on normal business days, this is not the case with employees who were terminated. Some states require immediate payment, but others do not. There are reasons the employer might hold the funds, and they do not face legal punishment. Some employers hold checks until guidelines outlined in the employee handbook are followed, such as returning entry devices to the workplace, equipment that belong to the company, and handbooks or files.

Temporary Employees

Most temporary employees are paid weekly. Being a temporary employee, you are not guaranteed continuous work, or work at all. If an opportunity comes up, you are paid for the hours you worked. California has a law stating that temporary employees who work on a day-to-day basis must receive a paycheck at the end of each completed day, versus being paid weekly.


Fraud is one exception that allows an employer to withhold wages. If an employee falsified her time sheet or work hours, the employer does not have to pay for the hours she did not actually work. Breaks or lunchtime might not count as hours worked unless the employer specifies otherwise. As for employers, if an automated time clock does not report accurate hours, the company can be held responsible and must pay employees immediately for any hours unpaid. Violation from either party is a criminal misdemeanor and is punishable in the court of law.

Check Distribution to Nonemployees

An employer does not have to allow anyone other than the employee to pick up his paycheck. Some employers allow individuals other than the employee to pick up the check by showing valid identification and signing a form. The employer could face a legal claim if the paycheck ends up in an unauthorized person's hands. Therefore, companies can dictate that only an employee can pick up his paycheck.