The Payment of Wages Act has clear-cut rules for how final payment for wages, including salary, bonuses, and accrued vacation pay, are to be submitted to employees who leave their job or who are terminated. The Act states that all wages owed to a separating employee must be paid either within 48 hours of the separating employee’s last date of work or by no later than the next regular pay date, whichever date comes later.
South Carolina courts have strictly construed the language of the Wage Payment Act and have interpreted the Act to provide definite safeguards to employees assuring that they are compensated for their work.
In the event that an employer fails to pay all wages owed to a separating employee within the time limits set forth above, the employee may file a civil suit against the previous employer to recover three times the actual amount of unpaid wages owed, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
The Unpaid Wage Act creates high stakes for employers who do not timely pay all wages and can create liability on behalf of the violating employer well beyond the initial amount of the unpaid wages owed to the employee.