In Louisiana, employers are given a lot of freedom when writing employee contracts. For example, under Louisiana law employers can change an employee’s pay rate at any time as long as they provide the employee with advance notice. This means that if you have questions about your pay, you should start by looking at your employment contract and your employer’s work policies.  But there are also some basic legal provisions that ensure employees are paid regularly for their work.

When must Paychecks Be Sent Out?

Generally, employers in Louisiana choose how and when they pay their employees so long as they tell the employee when hired. If the employer doesn’t choose specific paydays, then employees must be paid on the 1st and the 16th  of every month (or as close to those dates as is practical). 

However, employees that work in industries related to mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, or for a public service company must be paid at least twice per month. Employers in these industries may still choose the dates of employee paydays.  If no dates are specified employees shall be paid on the first and the sixteenth of every month (or as close as is practical).

What Happens if You are Fired?

When an employee in Louisiana is fired, laid off, or quits, the employer must pay all wages owed to the employee either by the next scheduled payday or within 15 days of the end of employment (whichever occurs first). While Louisiana does not require employers to provide paid vacation days, but if an employer offers paid vacation, then employees must be compensated for unused vacation days when they leave the company.

Can Your Paycheck be Garnished?

Most creditors can obtain the right to garnish wages but only after taking the issue to a local court and having the judge acknowledge your failure to pay what is owed.  However, certain debts can cause your paycheck to be garnished without a court proceeding, such as:

  • unpaid income taxes;
  • court ordered child support;
  • late child support and
  • defaulted student loans. 

Generally, the amount that can be garnished from a weekly paycheck is capped at the lesser of 25% of a take-home paycheck or 30 times the federal minimum wage (which would be $217.50).  There are a few exceptions, for example with child support payments up to 50% of a paycheck can be withheld.

Can You Recover a Withheld Paycheck?

Employers cannot withhold or garnish any part of an employee’s wages unless:

  • given the power under federal or state law; or
  • the employee has given written permission for their employer to withhold funds for a lawful purpose (ex: Social Security and Medicare deductions). 

Under Louisiana law an employer can withhold funds from an employee’s paycheck only if:

  • The employee willfully or negligently damages the employer’s property
  • The employee is convicted of stealing funds from the employer

If an employer wrongly refuses to issue a pay check or fails to pay the full amount of the wages due, then the employee can file a claim in small claims court

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?

If you feel that your rights at work have been violated and are looking for an attorney to help you with a paycheck related issue, then contact a local Louisiana employment lawyer today to get the help you need.