Colorado paycheck laws require an employer to furnish to their employee an itemized paycheck which details their:

  • Wages earned;
  • Taxes deducted; and
  • Other inclusive details of the pay period.

The paycheck which is given to employees is required to be made available to an employee once or twice a month or at the time of the payment of compensation or wages.

When Must Paychecks be Sent Out?

The timeline required for an employee to receive their paycheck varies depending upon the employment agreement that was made between the employer and the employee. If no such agreement was entered into, the Colorado wage and hour laws provide that all wages and compensation are required for regular pay periods which are no greater than 30 days or one calendar month, whichever time period is longer.

A regular pay day must be no later than 10 days following the close of the previous pay period. The paycheck type that is included in the pay periods noted above does not apply to reimbursement payments which are due to an employee under: 

  • A profit-sharing plan;
  • A pension plan; or
  • Another similar deferred compensation plan which the employee is under at their work. 

Most states provide a specific date by which an individual’s final paycheck is due. A list of these requirements may be found at the Department of Labor (DOL).

What Happens if My Paycheck is Late in Colorado?

If an employer fails to pay an employee the wages they are required to, the employee then has the right to file a written demand. If the employer fails to pay their wages within 14 days of the written demand, then the employee may be able to recover a significant penalty by filing a civil lawsuit.

What Happens if You are Fired?

Under the Colorado final paycheck law, if an employee is terminated, or fired, their employer must immediately provide the employee with their final paycheck following the termination or within 6 hours on the next business day when their workplace is open for business. If the employer’s payroll office is off-site, the employer is required to give the terminated employee their final paycheck within 24 hours of their termination.

If an employee is terminated and they still have unused accrued vacation time, their employer is required to pay all of that time out of their final paycheck. If an employer does not provide a final paycheck within 14 days of an employee’s written demand, the employee may receive the larger of:

  • Their daily earnings for each day their check is late, up to 10 days; or
  • 125% of their unpaid wages for the first $7,500 they are owed and 50% of the unpaid wages for any amount owed which is over $7,500.

If an employer’s failure to provide an employee their final paycheck is willful, the penalty increases by an additional 50%. If the employee quits their job, however, they are not eligible for a final paycheck until the next regularly scheduled payday. 

Can Your Paycheck be Garnished?

Yes, an individual’s paycheck in Colorado may be garnished. However, Colorado places limits on how much a creditor can garnish of an individual’s wages to repay debts such as:

Most creditors are not permitted to begin garnishing wages from an employee’s paycheck until they have received a court order. It is important to note that there are some exceptions to this rule.

A creditor may garnish an employee’s wages without a court order for the following:

  • Unpaid income taxes;
  • Collecting child support; and
  • Defaulted student loans.

In Colorado, there is a limit on the amount of money which can be garnished from an individual’s paycheck. An employee should be able to have enough money left over after a garnishment to pay for their living expenses.

There are federal laws in place which limit the amount of wage garnishments that can be taken from an individual’s paycheck. Although states are permitted to impose stricter limits, the State of Colorado has not placed any stricter limits, which means that the federal law governs in this area.

Can an Employer Withhold a Paycheck for Any Reason in Colorado?

In Colorado, an employer is not permitted to withhold or deduct any amount of wages from an employee’s paycheck unless certain circumstances exist. These circumstances include if a deduction:

  • Is mandated by or is in accordance with federal, state, or local laws, including, but not limited to:
    • Taxes;
    • Garnishments; or
    • Any other type of court-ordered deduction;
  • If for the repayment of certain things which were provided to the employee pursuant to a written agreement, as long as that agreement is enforceable and does not violate any laws. These may include:
    • Loans;
    • Advances;
    • Goods or services; and
    • Equipment or property which was provided to the employee;
  • Is necessary to cover the cost of a shortage due to a theft by the employee if a report has been filed with law enforcement in connection to the theft as is pending a final adjudication by the court. It is important to note, however, that the employee is entitled to recover any amount which was wrongfully withheld from their paycheck plus interest if: 
    • The accused employee is found not guilty in court; 
    • Criminal charges related to the theft are not filed against the employee within 90 days of filing the report with law enforcement; or 
    • The charges are dismissed.
  • That is not previously listed that is authorized by the employee if the authorization is revocable, including, but not limited to deductions for:
    • Hospitalization and medical insurance;
    • Other insurance;
    • Savings plans;
    • Stock purchases;
    • Voluntary pensions plans;
    • Charities; and
    • Deposits to financial institutions;
  • Is for the amount of money or the value of property which the employee failed to properly pay or return to their employer upon the separation from their employment. Employers have 10 calendar days following the termination of employment to audit and calculate the property value of any items which were entrusted to the employee prior to their wages or compensation being paid.

Can You Recover a Withheld Paycheck?

An employer is not permitted to withhold a final paycheck in its entirety for any reason under Colorado law. An employer is required to issue a final paycheck which contains compensation for all earned, unpaid wages as well as vacation time.

If an employer has withheld an individual’s final paycheck which they are owed they should notify their human resources department. It is also a good idea to hire an employment lawyer to assist them in obtaining their final paycheck.

An employer may be legally obligated to include all of the following:

  • Payment for hours worked;
  • Payment for the employee’s notice period; and
  • Payment for any accrued leave as well as other entitlements in full as part of their final paycheck.

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?

It is essential to have the assistance of a Colorado employment lawyer if you are facing any paycheck issues in Colorado. If your employer has withheld a portion of your paycheck or even your entire paycheck, your lawyer can help you. 

In general, Colorado laws prohibit withholdings. In addition, if you have not kept any property, you may have a claim for a wrongful termination. Your lawyer can evaluate your situation, assist you with obtaining your final paycheck from your employer, and represent you in court if a civil lawsuit becomes necessary.