Like many employees, you may keep track of your hours so you know what to expect on your paycheck. It’s nice when the amount of your pay exceeds your expectations, but you may want to get to the truth if you end up getting less than you feel you earned.
Part of this may be because it is often complicated to figure out the amount the federal government will deduct from your check each payday. However, if you closely examine your pay stub, you may see that your employer has deducted money for other reasons. This can be disappointing and frustrating, especially if you are counting on a certain amount to cover your bills and obligations. In some cases, your boss’s deductions may also be illegal.
What are illegal deductions?
You may give your boss permission to deduct certain expenses from your pay. For example, if you wish to contribute to a certain charity, savings plan or benefits plan, you can give your employer written permission to subtract that money from your pay. You may work out a deal for your employer to loan you money and deduct a specific amount each month to repay the loan. None of these violates your rights if you give written authorization. However, some common violations of the law include the following:
- Subtracting tips from your check beyond the establishment’s policies for tip sharing
- Charging you for a required uniform
- Refusing to reimburse you for necessary expenses you pay out of pocket during the course of your work duties
- Deducting the cost of physical exams to meet pre-employment or government mandates
- Subtracting the cost of any bond your employment requires you to carry
- Subtracting a balloon payment for any balance you may owe on a loan, even if it is your final check
- Deducting from your check any shortages from your cash drawer
- Charging you for any company property or products that become damaged through an accident or negligence on your part
If your employer reduces the amount of your pay because of damaged property or cash shortages, he or she must be able to prove that your actions were intentional, dishonest or the result of your gross negligence. Otherwise, you employer is likely making an illegal deduction. If you feel this is the case, you have the right to pursue restitution from the Labor Commissioner’s Office or through the civil courts. A California employment attorney can assist you with either process.