What are Illegal Payroll Deductions

What Are Illegal Payroll Deductions?

If you’re like many people, you know that your employer makes deductions from your paycheck – but did you know that some of them may be unlawful? This guide explains illegal payroll deductions and what you can do if money is missing from your paycheck.

What Are Illegal Payroll Deductions?

Illegal payroll deductions, by definition, are monies that your employer is not legally authorized to withhold from your paycheck. Unfortunately, there are some common payroll deductions that employers unlawfully take out, though, such as:

  1. Bond
  2. Business expenses
  3. Gratuities
  4. Medical or physical exams
  5. Photos
  6. Uniforms

Here’s a closer look at each.

Illegal Payroll Deduction #1: Bond

If your employer requires a bond of an applicant or employee, it must pay the cost of the bond.

Related: My employer didn’t pay me. What can I do?

Illegal Payroll Deduction #2: Business Expenses

Your employer must reimburse you for all expenses or losses you incur as a direct consequence of performing your duties. For example, if you needed to print a packet to give to your boss (because your boss required it) and had to purchase the paper for the packet, your employer must reimburse you. You are not required to pay for that expense out of your own pocket.

 What Are Illegal Payroll Deductions Gratuities

Illegal Payroll Deduction #3: Gratuities

Your employer cannot take, collect or even receive any gratuity (tip) or any part of it that someone gives you or leaves for you. Your employer can’t deduct any amount from the wages you’re due, either. However, restaurants are allowed to have tip pooling or sharing among employees who provide direct table service to customers.

That means your employer cannot pay you less than minimum wage because you received tips; your employer cannot take part of your tips for the “house;” and your employer cannot keep your tips because it believes you make enough money through your hourly wage.

Related: 7 common employment law issues

Illegal Payroll Deduction #4: Medical or Physical Exams

If your employer requires you to get a pre-employment medical or physical examination, or any medical or physical exam required by any federal or state law or regulation, your employer must pay for it. Your employer cannot withhold the cost from your paycheck or require you to pay for it before or after the fact.

Illegal Payroll Deduction #5: Photos

If your employer requires a photograph of you, it must pay the cost of the photograph. Your employer cannot tell you to go get professional photos taken and expect you to foot the bill – and it certainly cannot deduct the cost of a professional photo session from your paycheck.

Related: Mandatory meetings outside normal work hours: How much does your employer owe you?

What Are Illegal Payroll Deductions

Illegal Payroll Deduction #6: Uniforms

If your job requires a uniform, your employer must pay for it. Your employer cannot deduct the cost of the uniform from your check, and it cannot require you to purchase uniform items out of your own pocket. That includes certain apparel and accessories of “distinctive design” or certain colors. That means if your employer requires you to wear a green shirt and khaki pants, it must pay the cost of those items. Likewise, if it requires you to wear bunny ears, “flair” such as buttons, or an apron, your employer must pay for those items.

Employers are permitted to take the following from your paychecks, though:

  • Garnishments
  • Insurance premiums, hospital or medical dues, or other deductions that don’t amount to a rebate or deduction from the wage
  • Deductions authorized by a collective bargaining or wage agreement (such as those for health and welfare or pension payments)

Do You Think Your Employer is Making Illegal Payroll Deductions?

If your employer is making illegal payroll deductions from your checks, we may be able to help you. Gather your paystubs and call our office at 818-230-8380 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Glendale and Los Angeles employment lawyer now.


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