Can My Employer Legally Withhold My Paycheck?

Many employers mistakenly believe they can withhold an employee’s paycheck if he fails to provide adequate notice before terminating employment, if he owes money for uniforms, breakages or broken equipment or owes money on an unpaid loan. Similarly, employees believe they have no recourse when their employers fail to pay them their last paychecks. These are common misconceptions. Your employer cannot withhold your paycheck for any reason and failing to pay you in a timely fashion may be illegal.

File a Wage Claim

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, you can file a wage claim against your employer if he fails to pay you. You must file your wage claim with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Labor and Employment Law Division. The division will investigate meritorious complaints. If the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry decides to investigate your claim, you may be able to collect your unpaid wages and penalties from your employer. According to the Virginia Payment of Wage Law, your employer must establish regular paydays.


If your employer refuses to pay you on those paydays, he may have to pay you your unpaid wages, plus fines of up to $1,000 and additional fines for willful conduct. However, there is an exception for employers ordered to withhold child support from an employee’s paycheck pursuant to a court order.

Virginia Wage Payment Law

The Virginia Payment of Wage Law requires your employer to pay you at least once every two weeks if you are an hourly employee. If your employer pays you a salary, you must receive a paycheck at least once per month. Note, however, the paycheck frequency regulations do not apply to senior executives or other managerial employees. If your employer terminates employment or you quit, Virginia law requires him to pay you by your next regularly scheduled payday.

Smooth out your business operations with Keithley Law, PLLC and our Fairfax business law attorneys. Small businesses and major companies alike rely on us for day-to-day counsel, as well as representation for difficult cases. Find out more by contacting us and arranging an initial consultation with our team.