Written by attorney Robert Quinn Johnson

Virginia Wage Payment and Paycheck Withholdings

Virginia Code 40.1-29 has specific requirements regarding the payment of employees' wages and withholdings from employees' paycheck.

The Basics:

  1. Employers must establish regular pay periods: at least once per month for salaried employees and at least twice per month (or every other week) for hourly employees. Upon termination, the employer must pay the employee the remaining money owed no later than the next regularly-scheduled pay date.

  2. Wages may be paid by cash, check, direct deposit, or prepaid debit card. Employers may not require employees to establish direct deposit. There are special rules for payment by prepaid debit card.

  3. Except for wage advances and loan repayments, employers may not deduct or withhold wages from an employee's paycheck without the employee's signed, written consent. The consent must be voluntarily, and the employer cannot fire the employee for refusing to agree to a wage deduction. Further, the authorization must be specific for each deduction; in other words, an employee cannot simply agree to a blanket authorization that allows deductions for anything the employer chooses at any time. The employee can revoke his or her consent at any time.

Key practical takeaway: Employers may not withhold money from an employee's paycheck for cash register shortages, broken items or inventory, damage to company vehicles, lost items, etc. without the employee's specific, voluntary, signed, written authorization.

Penalties for violation can include civil (monetary fines) and criminal penalties, which are enforced by the Attorney General of Virginia. Complaints should be made to the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry on their provided form.

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