Find out when employers are required to distribute final paychecks in your state. The timeframe may vary based on whether the employment separation is voluntary or involuntary. If the employee resigned, whether or not they gave an advance notice will make a difference, too. Obviously, if an employee quits on the spot and walks out the door, you won't be expected to hand her a paycheck on her way out. Find out when you need to pay employees in each situation.
If your paid-leave policy pays out accrual balances at the time of separation, this should be included in the final paycheck. If you are required to pay employees who give ample notice in full on their last day, you may have to process the check before their last day of work if you use a third party for payroll processing. In this case, pay the employee for the hours on the schedule and let her know to follow the schedule exactly for her last few days. If she ends up working even fifteen minutes over, you will have to process a separate check for that time.
When an employee receives her final paycheck, remember to ask her to turn in company property such as keys, cell phones, company credit cards, and her ID badge. If she had network computer access, delete her login information and passwords. If she was authorized to make purchases and bill them to the company, remove her name from the vendor's records.
If an employee's final paycheck is sent after her last day, send it certified mail with a return receipt request or ask her to pick it up and sign for it in accordance with your paycheck distribution policy. If employees do not sign for their paychecks, you may want to consider a new procedure policy for final paychecks that includes a signed receipt.
Unclaimed paychecks should be handled in a responsible manner. Secure them in a safe place. If an employee says that she will pick up her check but does not show up after several days, give her a call. If you can't reach her, leave a message that the check will be sent by certified mail. If the envelope is returned by the post office because she moved or was not available to sign the envelope, put the unopened envelope in her personnel file or store it with the payroll records for that pay period. It is important that you have proof that you made an attempt to pay her.