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When Can Your Employer Take Money From Your Paycheck?


The first step to protecting your rights is knowing them. This article will tell you what employers can and what they can’t take out of your check.

What Employers Can Take Out

Here’s the short answer: employers can deduct anything allowed by the law, anything allowed by an agreement with the employee, or anything needed to cover the value of things taken by the employee.

Here are some examples of what the law allows employers to take out: taxes, social security, FICA requirements, Medicare, garnishments, etc. Common agreements between employers and employees include loans, pay advances, goods or services, and equipment or property, charitable donations, insurance payments, union dues, etc. These agreements must be in writing and employees can usually revoke the agreement and stop the deduction.

When an employer terminates an employee, the employer can deduct from the employee’s final paycheck the value of any of the employer’s property that the employee didn’t return.

So what happens if an employer wrongly accuses you of theft? Well, the law covers that too. If the police don’t file charges against the employee within 90 days of the report, a jury finds the employee not guilty, or the DA dismisses the charges, the employer must return the money to the employee. In addition, if the employer didn’t act in good faith, the employee can recover three times the amount of the wrongfully withheld money plus attorney’s fees and reasonable costs.

What Employers Can’t Take Out

Anything else is the quick answer. Here are some examples of things that your employer might try to take from you that aren’t allowed:

Deductions for Till Shortages

Unless they’re are prepared to report you to the police for theft, your employer can’t take your money because the till didn’t add up at the end of a shift. If you didn’t follow company procedures to make sure everything was correct, they can still discipline you. But that discipline can’t include taking money out of your check.

Deductions for Necessary Equipment

If you have to have to use something for your job, your employer cannot take money out of your paycheck to cover the cost of it. They may be able to make you purchase something, but they can’t just take it out of your pay.

Deductions for Property Damage

In general, employers can’t take your money to cover the cost of damage to the employer’s property. Of course, if you signed a written agreement allowing it, they can.

Deductions as Fines for Employee Behavior

Employers can discipline you for your behavior in the workplace, but they can’t just take money out of your pay.

So what can you do if your employer tries to take your money? First thing to check is your employee handbook. That should lay out the procedure for complaining about the situation. If that doesn’t help or if your employer takes some action against you for complaining, you may need to talk to a lawyer. If you want to, you can contact CannonLaw, LLC here.

C.R.S. 8-4-105