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Topic: Deduct airline expenses from final pay?

Messages (2) Visitors (981)


GShields
Member since 12/28/2010
Deduct airline expenses from final pay?
03/18/2011 / 10:08 am    #1

We have an employee that has given a 2-week notice and is leaving to take another job elsewhere. He was scheduled to travel to a show for the company and the airline tickets have already been purchased but, of course, he will not be attending the show. The owners want to deduct the cost of the airline tickets from this person's final pay. Is this legal? Is there a DOL regulation somewhere that I can bring to the owners' attention? Help!

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sansl3
Member since 06/08/2011
Re: Deduct airline expenses from final pay?
06/08/2011 / 12:36 pm    #2

Did you get an answer to this question? In your case I doubt anyone will say it's ok to make that deduction. Its a burden employers have to bear during the course of business. This is why we have the employee purchase the flights and etc. and reimburse them later.

Its best to have a policy and written agreement that says advances, unreturned/broken items, loans and things of that sort will need to be paid back before or at the time of termination then have the employee sign it. If not paid back (for example, because of a small final check) then the company will seek remedies in court.

Federal laws generally prohibit deductions from salaries that are not garnishments for things like child support and etc. The best way to handle it is notify the employee that you'll make a claim in court against them to get back what's due. In California things are much more restrictive. See the following:

The Labor Commissioner is guided by the following:1

Simple negligence: You may not deduct from an employee’s wages any amount to compensate yourself for loss or damage caused by the employee’s simple negligence.2 You must bear the burden of losses which result from an employee’s ordinary negligence or incompetence.

A debt: You may not deduct from an employee’s final check any amount representing the unpaid balance of a debt owed by the employee, even though the indebtedness is contained in a written agreement to pay the full amount of the debt on demand, at termination or otherwise.3

Gross negligence, willful misconduct, or dishonesty: You may deduct from the employee’s wages an amount sufficient to compensate for loss or damage resulting from gross negligence, willful misconduct, or dishonesty. You may take such deduction from the employee’s wages during employment and/or from the final check.

If you deduct from an employee’s paycheck any amount believed to be the result of gross negligence, willful misconduct, or dishonesty, the burden of proof is on you to establish the weight of evidence for the withholding. If you fail to meet the burden of proof, you will likely be subject to waiting time penalties.4

Any doubt as to your ability to prove misconduct is therefore best resolved in a small claims or other court proceeding against the employee, rather than a deduction from wages owed that employee.

A lack of prudent care (neglect)

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phCite
1 DLSE Enforcement Policies and Interpretations Manual secs. 10.1.2-10.1.4
2 Kerr’s Catering Service v. Dept. of Industrial Relations, 57 Cal. 2d 319 (1962)
3 Barnhill v. Robert Saunders & Co., 125 Cal. App. 3d 1 (1981)
4 Lab. Code sec. 203





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