It is the time of year where many workers look forward to an annual bonus. They may get a bonus as a reward for meeting end-of-year goals, or they may simply get a holiday bonus as an act of appreciation. Either way, a bonus is a nice surprise.
The granting of bonuses is at the discretion of your employer. Still, there are times when you may be able to pursue legal action if you were not given a bonus you earned.
What is a bonus under California law?
A bonus under California law is a payment rendered that is above and beyond your normal salary. However, bonuses are still considered wages for legal purposes.
There are two general types of bonuses. One is an earned bonus. These are given when you fulfill certain goals for your employer such as working a certain number of hours or meeting a sales goal. Your employer sets the parameters for the bonus and if you meet them, you are given the bonus.
The second type of bonus is an unearned bonus. You do not have to meet any goals to receive an unearned bonus. They are often given as a thank-you or around the holidays. Employers can choose whether or not to give someone an unearned bonus.
What happens if my employer does not pay me my bonus?
Under California law, bonuses are generally due no later than your next pay period. So, a bonus should be included on your next paycheck and reflected on that check’s paystub.
If you are not paid an earned bonus that you were due, you may be able to pursue legal action against your employer. You are not owed discretionary bonuses if you leave the employment of your employer.
Getting a bonus for exceeding job expectations or simply as a show of holiday goodwill is always nice. Still, if you expect a bonus that you rightfully earned and it goes unpaid you may have grounds for a lawsuit.