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Are your commissions being paid fairly?

Working on commission can sometimes feel like a precarious lifestyle. When sales are good, so is the money. But even the best salespeople hit dry spells sometimes.

One thing you shouldn't have to worry about is whether your employer is actually going to pay your commissions on time. After all, this is your paycheck. You depend on it.

The sad truth, though, is that this happens more often than it should. If you're in this situation, know that California law protects you, and that you can fight back.

Are you actually seeking "commissions?"

People use the term "commission" to refer to a lot of different things, but it has a specific legal meaning. Commissions are payments based on the value of a sale you made.

Some people confuse commissions with bonuses, which are usually discretionary.

When must commissions be paid?

In California, employers are supposed to give their salespeople written agreements that outline exactly how and when commissions are to be paid. For example, some employers may pay after the sale is made, while others might wait for customer payment.

Employers are required to abide by the commission agreement. They cannot change it without notice or apply a new agreement retroactively.

Additionally, California law requires that workers are paid at least twice a month. (Assuming, of course, that you've actually earned commission in both halves of the month.)

What about when I leave my job?

When your employment ends-regardless of whether you quit or were terminated-your employer must pay you all commissions you have earned. If you are terminated or you quit with more than 72 hours notice, your commissions must be paid on your last day. If you quit with less than 72 hours notice, your employer has 72 hours to pay your commissions.

A common point of contention, though, is what commissions have actually been "earned." If you made a big sale, but your contract doesn't count a sale until the customer pays, your former employer might dispute your claim to a commission.

How do I fight back if I'm not being treated fairly?

If your employer isn't abiding by your commission agreement, or if the agreement was unfair to begin with, you can fight back. Your best option is always to consult with an employment law attorney. The attorney can help you understand your rights under the law and your options for taking action.

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Law Offices of Reisner & King LLP
14724 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 1210
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Phone: 818-981-0901
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