#1  
Unread 05-19-2004, 08:28 PM
KMR
 
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Default Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

Hello, We are a big rig towing company in California. Without a big deal on all the regulations imposed upon us, can anyone tell me if it is unlawful to charge the employee for damaged or lost company equipment? I do not mean accidental. For example, employee ran over the remote control to our trailer because he laid it on the trailer, forgot about it, and it fell off. The controller is $800.00 a pop and this has happened 3 times. Each employee is responsible for checking the trucks before going out and often times one will leave a piece of equipment where they dropped off their last job. As an owner, we have to go out sometimes several miles to get it back or there is no recovery. We're getting tired of this nonchalance by the employees. Seems to be no recourse... unless we charge them by posting it in our policy with signed acknowledgement from each employee?
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  #2  
Unread 05-20-2004, 12:17 AM
s moll
 
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Default RE: Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

You can make them pay it back if there's neglect or abuse of property but I'm not sure about deducting it from their paycheck. The employee may prefer it that way, but I don't think you can do it arbitrarily.

I see this is your first post. Welcome to the Forum! They'll be others chiming in here that know more about CA state law.
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  #3  
Unread 05-20-2004, 01:57 AM
LarryC
 
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Default RE: Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

Welcome, KMR. I see you are in CA, so I can assume that you'll be coming to the forum for help rather often. (I should talk; I'm in MN.)

You can deduct from the employee's paycheck only with a written authorization from the employee. You can, however, do it "Godfather" style. I like to present the employee with the authorization along side a final written warning, or in your case, a termination notice since it's the third time. I then explain to the employee, "One of these sheets of paper will be "processed" in 5 minutes. Your choice."

I tend to think that this employee of yours probably will not survive the amount of time it would take to pay back these damages. Oh well. Good riddance. At least you will recover SOME money.
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  #4  
Unread 05-20-2004, 02:51 AM
Don D
 
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Default RE: Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

If it is possible to redirect the behavior of anyone at all, a truck driver is surely the hardest nut to crack!

I've worked several places where the recovery was just done, period, end of story. You have to assess your risk, based on state law, and determine your course. I do like the Godfather approach. I last worked for a company owned by an Oriental man and run by the iron fist of his wife. If this had happened there, this would have been the conversation as one of those two entered my office, "He not work here any more! No final check! No vacation, all forfeit!" I saw it happen more than once. Put the Godfather to shame......
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  #5  
Unread 05-20-2004, 04:52 AM
coloradospecialdistricts
 
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Default RE: Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

I understand there is one limitation under FLSA: You may deduct the value of destroyed/stolen/lost property with a signed release, BUT you must not deduct so much from any given paycheck that you bring the paycheck below minimum wage.

I have seen these done over a period of paychecks to avoid this problem. (i.e., $200/paycheck or other type of deduction until the amount owed is paid in full). If the e'ee quits before you make full recovery, you have a signed agreement to pay and a valid collectible debt (although you will have to start going through the legal process possibly to collect..)
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  #6  
Unread 05-20-2004, 05:50 AM
Balloonman
 
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Default RE: Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

Our policies state if they damage equipment and such we can take it out of their check. Typically I sit down with someone we need to get money from, have them sign and agreement that includes legal fees and such if they leave for any reason, that gets the money back over x number of checks. It also states if they leave I can withhold the balanced owed from their last check.
My $0.02 worth!
DJ The Balloonman
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  #7  
Unread 05-20-2004, 07:15 AM
HR in CA
 
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Default RE: Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

KMR, Welcome to the Forum!

As a California employer, you know employees are more valued than employers. Below I pasted from California Wage Order # 9, which I assume you fall under. However if you don't this verbage is in the several wage orders I am familiar with:

8. Cash Shortage and Breakage.

No employer shall make any deduction from the wage or require any reimbursement from an employee for any cash shortage, breakage, or loss of equipment, unless it can be shown that the shortage, breakage, or loss is caused by a dishonest or willful act, or by the gross negligence of the employee.


If you can show the loss was caused by willful and/or a dishonest act my Wage and Hour Law book cautions you have sufficient proof to back it up.

I feel your pain, we encounter this on a weekly basis and it sure cuts into the bottom line.

Good luck!

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  #8  
Unread 05-20-2004, 07:52 AM
Shadowfax
 
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Default RE: Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

Let's all go review the 'Time to Pull Out' thread. Can't even require reimbursement, not just no deduction - reimbursement - w/o showing intentional act or gross neg! How many repeats of simple negligence does it take to make one case of gross negligence? I don';t think I can even afford to visit Ca. You guys must be either psycho or saints to live and work there. WOW!
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  #9  
Unread 05-20-2004, 08:07 AM
HR in CA
 
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Default RE: Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

Again, I must state, California treats it's employees better than it's employers! Bottom line is employees are not held accoutable for much in the arens of wage and hour laws.

I used to work for an office manufacturer (big red) that was based in West Michigan. The Michigan HR didn't understand how the laws could vary so much from state to state. They had to get educated, then once they did they closed our plant!

I guess the good news is if you can do HR in California, you can do it anywhere!
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  #10  
Unread 05-20-2004, 09:04 AM
Carey
 
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Default RE: Can I deduct damage or lost equipment from employee pay?

Of course the previous post about California law is correct, you cannot deduct for the broken equipment. However, you can discipline the employee for his carelessness. You should document the occurrences if you haven't already done so and let him know the consequences of any future carelessness (terminatinon).
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