Final Paychecks in Ohio

Updated January 24, 2024
5 min read
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When are employers in Ohio required to pay final paychecks to their terminated employees? Answering this question requires an understanding of the Ohio final pay laws and state laws governing payment of wages. As you will see while reading this guide, applying the Ohio state law on the issue of disbursing final paychecks to terminated employees is not as straightforward as it sounds. This guide seeks to lead employers and employees within Ohio final paycheck laws on the issue of last wages to terminated employees.

What Are the Rules on Final Paychecks Under Ohio Labor Laws?

There is no federal law which requires an employer to immediately pay terminated employees. The timing of providing paychecks is a matter of state law, and in some states, immediate payment of paychecks to terminated employees is a statutory requirement. However, this is not the case of Ohio final pay laws. In fact, there is no explicit provision under Ohio state law that governs the payment of an employee’s final paycheck. Therefore, we must examine the existing rules on disbursing payments and interpret it accordingly.

What Ohio Final Paycheck Law Provides

Ohio Rev. Code Ann 4113.15 is the all-encompassing state law that governs final payments for terminated employees in Ohio. This law lays out a two-pronged rule: the first prong provides general rules on when paychecks are required to be given to employees, and the second prong imposes a penalty on employers who do not comply with the rules.

The first prong

Subsection A of Ohio Rev. Code §4113.15 provides that:

“Every individual, firm, partnership, association, or corporation doing business in this state shall, on or before the first day of each month, pay all its employees the wages earned by them during the first half of the preceding month ending with the fifteenth day thereof, and shall, on or before the fifteenth day of each month, pay such employees the wages earned by them during the last half of the preceding calendar month.”

The foregoing rule on Ohio termination pay laws provides two pay periods as to when paychecks are required to be paid, broken down in the following manner:

  1. For wages that were earned during the first half of the current month, the paycheck shall be paid on or before the first day of the subsequent month.

  2. For wages that were earned during the second half of the current month, the paycheck shall be paid on or before the fifteenth day of the subsequent month.

Warning

These Ohio termination pay rules do not prevent employers from setting a specific regularly scheduled payday, so long as the scheduled payday does not go beyond the required deadline for payment.

The second prong

The Ohio last paycheck laws, specifically Subsection B of Ohio Rev. Code §4113.15, provide that an employer shall also be required to pay employees liquidated damages on top of the employee’s regular pay for unlawful withholding of an employee’s paycheck after they are terminated or when an employer failed to pay wages.

Insight

In terms of the amount of liquidated damages, the Ohio payday laws set it at the lower amount of: (1) six percent (6%) of the amount of unpaid wages; or (2) a fixed amount of two hundred dollars ($200).

Applying the General Rules to Final Paychecks

Considering all these rules, how do we apply Ohio Rev. Code §4113.15 in cases of final payment to terminated employees?

The best interpretation is to apply Subsection A of Ohio Rev. Code §4113.15 by analogy and to use the terminated employee’s last official day of work as a reckoning point. Under this view, the terminated employee’s final paycheck is due on the first regularly scheduled payday following the last day of employment. However, if there is no regularly scheduled payday, the terminated employee’s final paycheck will need to be paid depending on the specific wages the final paycheck pertains to. 

Moreover, applying Subsection B of Ohio Rev. Code §4113.15 by analogy, but still using the terminated employee’s last official day of work as reckoning point, the terminated employee shall be entitled to liquidated damages if his or her final paycheck is not paid within the prescribed periods discussed above.

Conclusion

While there is no true Ohio last paycheck law, and no explicit rules under Ohio employment law governing final paychecks, what is clear is that employers are obligated to immediately pay a terminated employee within the prescribed period of time. The only question that the Ohio last paycheck law leaves unanswered is the timing of the payment of final paychecks. Notwithstanding the law’s silence on the matter, it is reasonable to presume that the Ohio wage payment law did not intend to leave terminated employees in limbo while freeing employers from liability for failing to pay terminated employees within a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, an injustice will be committed against terminated employees who deserve to be paid for their honest work. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where an employer is withholding your wages, it’s a good idea to contact a lawyer to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

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