It is one of the cardinal rules of employment law that an employer pay an employee for the services provided to him. This can be complicated when an employee quits a job. However, although rules differ slightly by state -- most employment law is made at the state level -- an employer generally is required to pay a person for the work he performed during his regular payday, regardless of his employment status.
When an employee agrees to perform work for an employer, the employer agrees to pay the employee a set amount of money. This agreement will not always be set in a written contract, but terms usually are arrived at either orally or in writing. In either case, the employer is legally obligated to pay the employee on the day that he agrees payment is due.
If an employee fails to pay an employee on payday, then the penalty that he suffers will depend on the laws of the state. For example, in some cases, an employer has a few days grace period if extenuating circumstances prevent his payment. However, in other cases, the employer may be fined or his employees entitled to additional money if he does not pay them on the day agreed to.
When an employee quits a company, he does not surrender any of his rights to be paid on time. The employer has two choices when an employee quits: He can either pay the employee immediately, prorating his salary for the amount of time that he worked, or he can pay him on his regular payday. Payment after the day constitutes a breach of contract.
The only exception to this rule is if, by quitting, the employee violated his employment contract. While much employment is "at will," meaning the employee can quit whenever he wants without penalty, other employees are not given this right. If the employee violated the terms of the contract by quitting, then the employer may have a right to withhold payment. In such a case, the employee should contact a lawyer.