The question, “Are Commissions Owed After Termination of Employment?” is one that often looms over both employees and employers when parting ways professionally. It’s a topic fraught with complexity, legal intricacies, and financial implications that demand a closer examination. Whether you are an employee seeking what you rightfully earned or an employer looking to uphold fair practices, the need for clear legal advice in commission-related matters cannot be overstated. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the nuances of commission payments following employment termination, shedding light on the legal landscape, best practices, and practical solutions that will help you navigate this crucial aspect of employment with confidence.

Understanding Commissions

What Are Commissions?

Commissions are a form of variable compensation typically tied to an individual’s performance in generating sales or meeting specific targets. They are a percentage of the revenue generated through their efforts.

Types of Commissions

In the realm of compensation structures, understanding the various types of commissions is paramount for both employers and employees. Whether you’re a sales professional, an independent contractor, or a business owner, the way commissions are structured can significantly impact your earnings. This understanding begins with the employment agreement or commission agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions governing commission activities. These agreements can define whether you’ll be working on a straight commission, receiving a draw against commission, or perhaps even earning residual commissions. The complexity of commission structures necessitates the expertise of an employment lawyer who can provide valuable insights and ensure that your compensation aligns with your expectations and legal requirements. By unraveling the intricacies of different commission models, you can make informed decisions that benefit both your financial well-being and professional relationships.

Employment Contracts and Commission Agreements

The Relevance of Employment Contracts

Employment contracts and commission agreements are crucial documents that govern the terms and conditions of employment, including commission structures.

Specificity in Commission Agreements

Clear and specific commission agreements are vital for both employers and employees. They outline the rules for commission calculations, payment schedules, and conditions for termination.

Clauses for Commission Termination

Many commission agreements have clauses that address what happens to commissions upon termination, making it essential to review these documents closely.

Scenarios of Commission Payments After Termination

Scenario 1: Resignation

When an employee resigns, commission payments can vary depending on the circumstances and the agreement in place.

Scenario 2: Termination without Cause

Employees terminated without cause may be entitled to commissions they earned up to the point of termination.

Scenario 3: Termination with Cause

In cases of termination with cause, commissions may be forfeited, but disputes can arise over what constitutes “cause.”

Scenario 4: Retirement

Retirement can also impact commission payments depending on the company’s policies and agreements.

Legal Framework Surrounding Commission Payments

Federal and State Laws

Federal and state laws may govern the payment of commissions after employment termination, so understanding these laws is crucial.

Collective Bargaining Agreements

Sometimes, employees may be covered by collective bargaining agreements that address commission payments.

Company Policies

Company policies and procedures should be reviewed, as they may offer additional guidance on commission payments after termination.

Disputes and Resolution

Mediation and Arbitration

In disputes, mediation and arbitration can be effective means of resolution, offering a more cost-effective and efficient option than litigation.


When all else fails, litigation may be the final recourse to resolve commission disputes, but it can be costly and time-consuming.

The Role of Legal Counsel

Legal counsel can provide valuable guidance and representation in commission disputes, protecting your rights.

Best Practices for Employers and Employees

Clear and Comprehensive Agreements

Both employers and employees benefit from clear and comprehensive commission agreements, commissions on sales that leave little room for ambiguity.

Documenting Sales and Commissions

Accurate record-keeping of sales and commissions can be essential when disputes arise, so keeping detailed records is a best practice.

Maintaining Good Employment Relations

Maintaining positive employment relationships often leads to smoother negotiations and resolutions when commission issues arise.


In conclusion, commissions are a crucial compensation component for many employees, and what happens to them after termination is a matter of careful consideration. Clear average commission agreements, knowledge of applicable laws, and open communication can help navigate the complexities surrounding commission payments after employment termination. By understanding the scenarios, legal frameworks, and best practices outlined in this blog post, employers and employees can ensure that their interests are protected during a termination. Clarity is critical, and being informed is the best way to effectively navigate this aspect of employment compensation.

Your Commission, Your Right: At Buttar Law, we specialize in resolving commission-related disputes. Whether you’re an employer or employee, take proactive steps to safeguard your interests and resolve any uncertainties regarding post-employment commissions. Reach out to us and ensure that your commissions are rightfully yours.

FAQs: Are Commissions Owed After Termination of Employment?

What happens to my earned commissions when I resign from my job?

When you voluntarily resign, the treatment of your earned commissions can vary depending on your employment contract and company policies. Some companies may pay out earned commissions up to the date of your resignation, while others may have a different approach. It’s crucial to review your commission agreement and communicate with your employer to understand the specifics of your situation.

Can I receive commissions if I’m terminated without cause?

If you are terminated without cause, you may typically be entitled to commissions you earned up to your termination date. The specific terms may be outlined in your employment contract or commission agreement. However, reviewing your agreement and consulting with your HR department or legal counsel to ensure you receive what you are entitled to is essential.

Do I lose my commissions if I’m terminated with cause?

In most cases, if you are terminated with cause, you may forfeit your right to unpaid commissions. The definition of “cause” can vary, so it’s essential to understand how your employment contract or company policy defines it. In dispute situations, legal counsel may be necessary to clarify your rights.

What happens to my commissions if I retire from my job?

The treatment of commissions upon retirement can differ based on your employment agreement and company policies. Some companies continue to pay commissions after retirement for a specified period, while others may not. Review your retirement package, commission agreement, and company policies to understand what you can expect in your particular case.

Can I take legal action to recover unpaid commissions after termination?

Yes, you can take legal action to recover unpaid commissions if you believe you are entitled to them and your employer is not fulfilling their obligations. Legal recourse may involve mediation, arbitration, or litigation, depending on the circumstances and the agreements in place. Consulting with an attorney experienced in employment law is recommended if you find yourself in this situation.

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