Virginia Employment Law FAQ About Payroll and Bonuses

Payroll can sometimes be complex, especially when you add in bonuses. We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about payroll and bonuses to help you.


How long does an employer have to correct a payroll when it is wrong in Virginia?

They don’t have a window of correction.  They have violated the law if they pay late or incorrectly.  If your paycheck is not correct, you should contact your HR department as soon as the discrepancy is discovered.


Does a company have to pay out my bonus if I quit? 


It depends on the company policy on bonuses or any contract you may have.  Most policies say you need to be employed on the day the bonus is paid in order to get it.  But some bonuses, which are based on performance numbers for a given year, must be paid if the year is completed.


Is my employer discriminating by not paying a bonus?


No. Discrimination may occur when everyone of one race or gender gets a bonus, and others of a different race or gender don’t. However, there are still circumstances where this may be a “perhaps” and it would be best to contact an employment attorney.


Are bonuses considered wages in Virginia?


Yes, they are. Everything you are given for work is part of wages. That includes salary or hourly pay, commissions, bonuses, gift cards from the company (not from individual employees or managers unless large). It can also include reimbursement for medical expenses if that is paid instead of providing health insurance.   


Can an employer hold back a bonus?


It depends.  Most bonuses are discretionary, in which case, yes. But if it’s mandatory, like in a contract, then no. It must be paid out if it is bound to a contract.


Do I get to keep my bonus if I get fired?


For a bonus that has already been paid out, you do not need to pay it back, even if requested. However, if you were informed of your bonus amount, and then fired before you received it, you may not get it. Whether you are entitled to it depends on company policy and any communication to you about the bonus.


Can a company stop giving bonuses?

Virginia Employment Law FAQ About Payroll and Bonuses


Yes, they can. A bonus, by definition, is discretionary, meaning there is no legal requirement to pay it at any time. If you have a contract tying a bonus to a certain work production, then you are entitled to that bonus if you hit your numbers. But going forward a company can always change compensation and stop paying bonuses unless you have a contract that says otherwise.  


Can I be fired for demanding an earned bonus?


No. That’s a violation of the Virginia Whistleblowers’ Protection Act if you are fired for demanding pay to which you are legally entitled.


Can I recover unpaid commissions?


Yes, you can. If everything has happened that your commission plan says has to happen and you are not paid a commission, then that is the same as not paying a salary check.  But be careful here.  Many commission plans say a commission is paid the month after you did the work, or at the end of the quarter, etc., and require you to be employed on the date the commission is paid in order to receive it.   


Can an employer withhold a final paycheck in Virginia?


Only if you gave permission in a signed writing.

What is the termination pay law in Virginia?


Virginia requires that an employer pay what is due at the next payday (in the regular course of business). Paychecks may be cut early and given to the terminated employee, but it is not required.


What happens if my employer didn’t pay me on payday in Virginia?


They broke the law, and you can bring an action under the Virginia Wage Payment Act.  You can seek triple the wages owed plus your attorneys’ fees in that case.   


Do companies have to pay out PTO when you quit Virginia?


Only if company policy is to do so.  Virginia law does not require an employer pay out PTO, and it does not dictate how much PTO must be paid. If a company policy says they pay out a week and you have three weeks accrued, the other two are forfeited.

Experienced Employment Law Attorney in Virginia


If you have more questions or would like to speak to an experienced employment lawyer, please contact Cook, Craig, and Francuzenko today. 

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