It is unlawful for an employer to make deductions from an employees wages unless authorised by –
- The worker giving his consent in writing
- The Contract of Employment
- Statutory Authority
There are very few exceptions to these provisions but one exception is to enable an employer to recover inadvertently overpaid wages.
“Wages” include holiday pay and commission but exclude “expenses” or loans advanced by the employer to the employee.
Statutory authority provides that an employer may make deductions from earnings without the written consent of the employee where he is directed to do so by a Court – good examples being Child Support Agency liability orders or Attachment of Earnings Orders used to enforce judgment debts in the civil courts.
The employee’s remedy against unlawful deduction from wages is to apply to an employment tribunal within three months of the act complained of occurring. An employer may be ordered to repay sums improperly deducted and more significantly those sums repaid will be forfeited by the employer who will not be allowed to recover them by other means.