FAQ: Why Do Jobs Hold My First Paycheck?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 11, 2021

Before you work for a company, it's essential to know how companies handle the first paycheck and when you should expect yours.Some companies may have pay policies that are different from what you expect and knowing those policies can help you know when to expect your first paycheck and how much you can expect the paycheck to have in it. In this article, we discuss whether an employer can hold your first paycheck, how much money you can expect in your first paycheck and how you could receive that first check.

Related:Pay & Salary FAQ: When Will I Get Paid? First and Last Paychecks Discussed

Can an employer my paycheck?

Employers cannot legally withhold your first paycheck. Sometimes employees perceive that a first paycheck is being held when, in actuality, it's simply delayed. For example, many companies pay in arrears. Paying in arrears refers to the practice of paying employees for work they performed during a previous pay period, as opposed to the current one.

Companies generally pay all employees at the same time. Unless you made other arrangements with the employer, you generally have to wait until the company's HR department processes payments before you receive your first paycheck.

The most important point to note, though, is that your employer will pay you for the days that you are working and that the paycheck is simply delayed according to the HR department's payment processing schedule. For this reason, it's a good idea to inquire about a company's payment process during employee orientation.

Related: What Is Payroll Accounting (Definition and Examples)

How much money will be in my first check?

The amount of money in your first paycheck can vary depending on several factors:

When you started in a pay period

While it's possible that you began working for a company on the first day of a pay period, this scenario is also uncommon. This means that your paycheck is likely less than what you can expect for future paychecks, since you may not have been working for the employer during the first few days of the pay period.

It's also possible that your first paycheck will be higher than future paychecks. Sometimes companies process employee payroll several days prior to payday. If you started before payday but after your employer processed payroll, then your first paycheck should include the additional days you spent working.

How many deductions you are taking

Your paycheck is also heavily impacted by the deductions you're taking. According to the IRS, the government requires employees to take some deductions directly from their employees' paychecks, such as federal taxes, Medicate and Social Security.;

There are other optional deductions you can also opt into, if available. For example, you may choose to purchase medical, dental or vision insurance from your employer. You may also be able to set up a retirement account through your employer and take funds directly from your paycheck, pre-tax, to contribute to retirement savings. In this case, your company may deduct part of the premium payment directly from your paycheck.

Related: What Are Employee Payroll Taxes?

How many pay periods there are in a month

A pay period refers to recurring schedule a company follows when paying its employees. Pay periods can vary from one employer to the next. Many companies pay employees weekly, monthly, bi-weekly or twice per month on specific days, such as the first and 15th. It's important to know the schedule your company follows since it impacts the amount of money in your first paycheck.

If you are an hourly employee, the amount in your paycheck is contingent on the number of hours you worked during that pay period. If you are a salaried employee, then your paycheck should be the same every month. To determine the amount that should be on your paycheck, prior to deductions, you can divide your salary by the total number of pay periods in a year.

Related: Bimonthly vs. Biweekly Pay: Advantages and Disadvantages

How will I get my first check?

How you will get your first paycheck typically depends on what options your employer makes available. Here are a few possible ways you could get your first paycheck:

Physical check

Some companies pay their employees with a paper check. It could be delivered directly to you at work or mailed to your home. Some employers may also require employees to pick checks up at a specific location, such as the HR department.

Direct deposit

Many employers choose to pay their team members by having money deposited directly into their bank accounts, a practice referred to as direct deposit. If you choose to receive your paycheck in this way, the employer will ask you to provide your banking information or possibly a voided check in order to set this up. In some cases, the process of setting up direct deposit may take time, so your employer may choose to give you a physical check for your first paycheck and then pay you via direct deposit in the future.

Debit card

Though this method of paying employees is less common, some employers do give employees the option of receiving debit cards, which are then funded with employee wages during each pay period. The benefit of a payroll debit card is that employees can use the debit cards to pay their bills and avoid fees associated with cashing checks.

When will I get my first paycheck?

You can expect to receive your first paycheck on the first employee-wide payday after a company hires you. The exception to this is if you are hired after the company completes payroll processing for their team, in which case those extra days may be added to the next pay period. When this happens, some companies choose to write a separate check for that employee for the one or two days that they worked between payroll processing and payday.

Browse more articles