It is always important to double check your paycheck and make sure you are getting paid properly. If it seems that your paycheck is less than it should be, it may be because of deductions made by your employer. If this is the case, you should establish that these deductions are proper.
There are only a few specific instances that allow an employer to legally deduct funds from an employee’s paycheck. One example is taxes, or any other deduction required or allowed under state or federal law. An employer can deduct funds for insurance premiums and benefit plan contributions if there is a written agreement between the employer and employee allowing such deductions. An employer can also make deductions, such as union dues and pension contributions, that are expressly authorized in a wage or collective bargaining agreement.
Generally, specific deductions are allowed as long as the employee previously gave written authorization to the employer. For example, the employer and employee can agree that food and lodging are part of an employee’s salary, in which case wages can be deducted to cover food and lodging expenses. Under certain conditions, an employer can even offset minimum wage payments by providing an employee with food and lodging. What an employer cannot do is require an employee to pay for meals or housing through his or her job.
That said, if money has been deducted from an employee’s paycheck to cover the cost of a work uniform or tools, this is probably not legal. An employer cannot provide a required uniform or tools and then deduct the cost from the employee’s paycheck. In fact, if the employee goes out and buys tools or clothes required of the job, the employer usually has to reimburse him or her.
In that same vein, if an employee owes an employer money, the employer cannot deduct the debt from the employee’s paycheck. Rather, the employer’s option is to sue in small claims court or superior court for reimbursement.
Finally, an employer may deduct any losses caused by an employee’s dishonesty, willful misconduct, or gross negligence under certain circumstances.