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Do I Have To Pay An Employee Who Walks Off The Job?

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Question: What if an employee walks off the job site and never returns or explains? He also does not turn in a final timesheet so I don’t know what hours he worked to pay him. Do I guess what his hours are and pay him or wait until he turns in a timesheet? What is my legal responsibility?

Answer: It would seem that this former employee has no interest in his final paycheck or he would have taken steps to see that he got paid–like taking the trouble to turn in his last time sheet. If it’s practical to estimate his final pay, and the company has a mailing address for the employee, the conservative legal approach would be to send him a final paycheck based on that estimate (and send it via certified mail return receipt requested).

Alternatively, and of course less conservatively, the company might simply wait to see if the former employee ever does surface, see if he can produce credible evidence of the hours he last worked, and then give him a final paycheck. On a related note, the employee should be taken off the payroll now and if he’s entitled to COBRA, a COBRA election notice should be sent to his last known address.

This response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, nor is this column a substitute for formal legal assistance. For help with particular legal needs, members are invited to consult with Brooke Duncan III of Adams and Reese LLP. Mr. Duncan can be reached at 504-585-0220 or by email at

Brooke Duncan

Posted In: Legal

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