How to Calculate the Final Paycheck for Salaried Employees

final paycheck salaried employees
6
min read
January 5, 2023

Losing an employee is a stressful situation that both employers and employees generally want to avoid. But the truth is most workers won't stay with you forever. At some point, you'll lose some of them.

The task at hand now becomes compensating them for the final hours they worked for you. And depending on your state, you may have a tight deadline to get it done.

So, how do you calculate the final paycheck for a salaried employee? We’ll cover all that and more, so let’s dive in!

What You Need to Know to Calculate a Final Paycheck

Letting an employee go is never easy—no matter how experienced you are. Each case is unique, and various factors can make calculating the final paycheck a bit of a headache. 

To make it easier for you, here’s a quick rundown of what to keep in mind while calculating your employee’s last paycheck:

State Laws Governing Final Pay

Federal law doesn't regulate when you must pay the final paycheck for a salaried worker. However, various states have different regulations about when you should pay employees if they quit or get fired from your company. 

For instance, if you fire an employee in California, you must pay their final wages immediately—including accrued vacation. If they quit, you must pay their last paycheck within 72 hours. And if they've given you more than 72-hours notice, you must pay them immediately.

In contrast, New York employers can pay the final paycheck on the next scheduled payday, regardless of whether they fired the worker or the employee quit.

Here’s a full list of state laws:

Deadline for Giving Employees Final Paycheck
State When You Fire an Employee When an Employee Quits
Alabama No law No law
Alaska 3 working days after you fire team member On the next payday that’s at least 3 days after the employee tells you they’re quitting
Arizona 7 working days or on the next payday–whichever is earliest Next payday
Arkansas 7 working days Next scheduled payday
California Immediately 72 hours…but if employee gives more than 72-hours notice, final check must be given on their last day.
Colorado Immediately or within 6 hours before next working day if they’re fired when your payroll department is closed or within 24 hours if your payroll team is not on site Next scheduled payday
Connecticut Next business day Next scheduled payday
Delaware Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
District of Columbia Next business day Next scheduled payday or within 7 days–whichever comes first
Florida No law No law
Georgia No law No law
Hawaii Immediately or next business day if circumstances prevent you from doing so right away Next scheduled payday unless employee gave one pay period’s notice–then must be given on their last day
Idaho Next scheduled payday or within 10 days–whichever comes first. If employee submits written request for earlier payment, you have 48 hours to pay them. Next scheduled payday or within 10 days–whichever comes first. If employee submits written request for earlier payment, you have 48 hours to pay them.
Illinois Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
Indiana Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday. If no forwarding address provided, employer must wait 10 days after the employee asks for their compensation or gives you an address.
Iowa Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
Kansas Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
Kentucky Next scheduled payday or within 14 days–whichever comes first Next scheduled payday or within 14 days–whichever comes first
Louisiana Next scheduled payday or within 15 days–whichever comes first Next scheduled payday or within 15 days–whichever comes first
Maine Next scheduled payday or within 2 weeks after a demand from the employee–whichever comes first Next scheduled payday or within 2 weeks after a demand from the employee–whichever comes first
Maryland Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
Massachusetts Immediately Next scheduled payday or the following Saturday if there isn’t a payday scheduled
Michigan Next scheduled payday (some industry-specific exceptions apply) Next scheduled payday
Minnesota 24 hours Next scheduled payday, unless it’s less than 5 days after employee’s last day–then you have 20 days OR the next scheduled payday–whichever comes first
Mississippi No law No law
Missouri Immediately No law
Montana Immediately if fired for cause, though you can create a written policy to extend this time to the next scheduled payday or within 15 days–whichever comes first Final paycheck must be given on the next scheduled payday or within 15 days, whichever is earlier.
Nebraska Next scheduled payday or within 2 weeks–whichever comes first Next scheduled payday or within 2 weeks–whichever comes first
Nevada 3 days Next scheduled payday or within 7 days–whichever comes first
New Hampshire 72 hours unless employee laid off–then you have until the next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday or within 72 hours if employee gave one pay period’s notice
New Jersey Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
New Mexico Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
New York Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
North Carolina Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
North Dakota Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
Ohio Next scheduled payday or within 15 days—whichever comes first Next scheduled payday or within 15 days—whichever comes first
Oklahoma Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
Oregon End of next business day Immediately if employee gives notice within 48 hours and if no notice is given, within 5 days or the next scheduled payday–whichever comes first
Pennsylvania Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
Rhode Island Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
South Carolina 48 hours or next scheduled payday, but no more than 30 days 48 hours or next scheduled payday, but no more than 30 days
South Dakota Next scheduled payday or when employee gives back the employer’s property Next scheduled payday or when employee gives back the employer’s property
Tennessee Next scheduled payday or within 21 days–whichever is later Next scheduled payday or within 21 days–whichever is later
Texas 6 days Next scheduled payday
Utah 24 hours Next scheduled payday
Vermont 72 hours Next scheduled payday or next Friday if no scheduled paydays
Virginia Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
Washington Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday
West Virginia Next scheduled payday–or before Next scheduled payday–or before
Wisconsin Next scheduled payday or within 1 month–whichever comes first. If they’re fired because of a merger, relocation, or liquidation, you have to give them their check within 24 hours. Next scheduled payday
Wyoming Next scheduled payday Next scheduled payday

Tax Withholding on the Final Paycheck

When calculating your employee's take-home pay, you need to withhold the following tax deductions:

  • Federal income taxes 
  • FICA taxes—Social Security and Medicare taxes
  • State income taxes

The exact amount you withhold from the employee's paycheck will depend on how they filled out Form W-4—in other words, their total income, filing status, and the number of dependents. 

If you also live in a city with local income taxes, those taxes will affect what the employee sees on their pay stub as well.

The good news is that if you're using payroll software like Hourly to issue paychecks, it’ll automatically adjust these payroll taxes for you. 

Severance Pay and Unemployment Benefits

No law requires you to offer severance pay to employees leaving your company. 

However, if the employee's contract says they should get severance pay when dismissed, you'll be legally obligated to honor those pledges. Failing to do so puts you at risk of a lawsuit for breach of contract.

Deducting Cost of Lost or Unreturned Property

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits employers from deducting lost, unreturned, or stolen items from the final salary of exempt workers. To be exempt, a worker should earn a minimum of $684 per week (at least $35,568 per year). 

The best way to recoup the lost, unreturned, or stolen items is to either:

  • Invoice the employee for the item's cost or take the issue to small claims court to get a legal judgment.
  • Recover the loss through your business insurance.

However, for non-exempt workers, you can deduct the cost of the items, provided it doesn’t reduce the employee’s salary below the minimum wage or alter their overtime pay.

Still, states like California prohibit any deductions from an employee's final pay, regardless of whether they’re exempt or non-exempt.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

According to the FLSA, exempt employees aren't entitled to overtime pay

In contrast, FLSA regulations protect non-exempt employees, and you must pay them for overtime hours, which is time and a half for any hours worked over 40 or—for some states and industries—over 8 hours in a day.

How is an Employee’s Last Check Calculated?

Calculating how much you owe to hourly employees on their final paycheck is quite simple. You just multiply their hourly rate by the number of hours they worked before leaving your company, plus overtime pay.

For salaried employees, chances are slim their last day will fall exactly at the end of the pay period. So you'll prorate their salary like you do when calculating pay for an exempt employee who joins in the middle of the pay period.

With that in mind, here's how to calculate the final pay for salaried workers:

1. Calculate the Employee’s Daily Pay Rate

The calculation of the daily pay rate varies depending on the pay schedule you’re following. 

If you’re using a weekly schedule, just divide the employee’s weekly pay by five (the number of days in a workweek). For example, if an employee earns $700 per week, their daily pay would be $140.

Or:

Weekly pay / 5 workdays = Daily pay

$700 / 5 workdays = $140 per day

To calculate the daily rate for the other pay schedules, convert the employee’s salary into annual (or yearly) pay by multiplying their paycheck by the number of pay periods in a year. Then, divide by 52 to get the weekly pay, and finally by five to get the daily pay.

In other words:

  • Employee’s pay x number of pay periods = Annual salary
  • Annual salary / 52 (number of weeks in a year) = Weekly pay
  • Weekly pay / 5 (number of days in a workweek) = Daily pay

For monthly pay:

  • Employee’s pay x 12 = Yearly salary
  • Yearly salary / 52 = Weekly pay
  • Weekly pay / 5 = Daily pay

For semimonthly pay:

  • Employee’s pay x 24 = Yearly salary
  • Yearly salary / 52 = Weekly pay
  • Weekly pay / 5 = Daily pay

For biweekly pay:

  • Employee’s pay x 26 = Yearly salary
  • Yearly salary / 52 = Weekly pay
  • Weekly pay / 5 = Daily pay

So if an employee earns $3,000 monthly, how do you calculate their daily pay?

  • $3,000 x 12 = $36,000 (yearly salary)
  • $36,000  / 52 = $692.31 (weekly pay)
  • $692.31 / 5 = $138.46 (daily pay)

Their daily pay will be $138.46.

And if they earn $3,000 semimonthly, their daily pay will be $276.92:

  • $3,000 x 24 = $72,000 (yearly salary)
  • $72,000 / 52 = $1,384.62 (weekly pay)
  • $1,384.62 / 5 = $276.92 (daily pay)

And if the $3,000 is their biweekly pay, their daily rate will be $300:

  • $3,000 x 26 = $78,000 (yearly salary)
  • $78,000 / 52 = $1,500 (weekly pay)
  • $1,500 / 5 = $300 (daily pay)

2. Determine How Many Days the Employee Has Worked

After working out the employee's daily pay rate, all that's left to do is to multiply that figure by the number of days they've worked in the last pay period.

For example, if an employee earned $300 per day and worked for 20 days using a monthly pay frequency before calling it quits, their gross pay would be $6,000:

$300 x 20 days = $6,000

3. Deduct Payroll Taxes

Then just deduct payroll taxes, and you’ll get the employee’s final pay. Here's a quick reminder of the taxes you'll need to take out of their last paycheck:

  • Federal income taxes 
  • FICA taxes—Social Security and Medicare taxes
  • State income taxes

Now that you know everything there is to know about calculating the final paycheck for a salaried employee, all that's left to do is…

Evaluate the Final Paycheck to Comply With the Law

As you part ways with an employee, your work isn’t done just yet. Make sure to evaluate their final paycheck and pay what you owe to comply with labor laws

Here are some things you need to check:

  • Are there any special terms for final pay on the employment contract?
  • Is there any outstanding accrued pay for time off or overtime?
  • What time frame has your state given to pay the final paycheck?

Remember that complying with labor laws isn’t optional. An employee could sue you if you don’t pay them what’s due. For that reason, get legal counsel if you’re having challenges or concerns while calculating an employee's final net pay to avoid fines and problems later.

That said, parting ways with an employee doesn't mean harboring any ill feelings. Just keep things cordial and wish them luck in all their future endeavors. It's a nice gesture that can end your journey together positively.

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