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What deductions can your employer withhold from your paycheck?

California has some of the toughest labor laws in the country. The state puts workers first in nearly all employment matters. For example, paycheck deductions are complex, prohibiting many practices other states allow. Still, some legal deductions remain.

In general, employers need to cover the costs of items considered necessary for the job. Meanwhile, employees typically pay for their own personal expenses or those required by a court order. But, what might that look like in practice?

Legal vs. illegal subtractions from earnings

California’s Department of Industrial Relations designates only three circumstances when an employer can withhold wages. Acceptable deductions include those:

  • Required by federal or state law, such as court-ordered child support or taxes
  • Authorized by a wage or collective bargaining agreement
  • Based on written employee consent to cover the costs of a benefit plan or health insurance premium

Practices outside these conditions are typically unlawful. However, an employer may have the right to deduct wages for losses suffered because of a worker’s negligence or ill intent.

Workers have the right to explore their options

Employers must cover the expenses of job requirements, such as mandatory company uniforms, photos for identification cards and necessary medical examinations. Likewise, employers must reimburse employees for work-related losses or expenses.

Although oversight might seem limiting, the outlined specifications can significantly minimize potential disputes between an employer and those on their workforce. However, it’s wise to learn about your legal rights in case questionable situations arise.

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