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Withholding Replacement Cost of Unreturned Property in Final Paycheck Pennsylvania

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  • Withholding Replacement Cost of Unreturned Property in Final Paycheck Pennsylvania

    Our employee handbook states "If you do not return a piece of property (examples are given in the handbook as to what the various pieces of propery are), we will withhold from your final paycheck the cost of replacing that piece of property."

    Sounds easy enough, but here's the problem: One of our employees submitted a letter of resignation one day stating that the following day would be their last day. As this was an employee with a very short fuse (yells, screams, and cries at the drop of a hat) who was leaving because they were unhappy, we asked that employee to leave that same day instead of waiting to see what damage they could cause by coming in the next day for their final day. The employee was given a termination letter which cited the employee handbook section on unreturned property. They admitted there was one item they could not find - even accused management of having it.

    Now it is time to do payroll and actually withhold the replacement cost. My boss wants to almost double the actual replacement cost of the item and call it "staff time spent getting the item." Can we do this? If I was this employee I would demand to see the invoice showing the actual replacement cost and then I would be irate to see that management increased it by another $20. I send payroll to the accountant tomorrow and don't want to get my employer in any legal trouble if I withhold the amount they want me to. How should this be handled???

  • #2
    Pennsylvania law is pretty strict about withholding for such items. The law definitely does not permit "time spent by the staff in looking for the items". That, to be blunt, is a bunch of hooey. Whether or not the employee handbook statement is enough to authorize deduction of the actual amount is subjective and, to be honest, I'll bet if you called the DOL tomorrow morning and posed this question, they would say no. Did the employee even sign anything that he had received the handbook?

    http://www.dli.state.pa.us/landi/lib...lc/wpcregs.pdf
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    • #3
      I will have to agree with Pattymd. I have a strong suspicion that DOL would tell you that your policy is not enforceable.

      One flaw in your policy is that you do not have a separate agreement addressing the equipment acceptance. I'd recommend that the agreement include the cost of replacement so that there'd be no question in the amount of reimbursement. While I agree most situations will not allow for a payroll deduction, this agreement could be used as evidence in a civil procedure to recoup costs.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by robb71
        I will have to agree with Pattymd.
        You don't have to, Robb. But since, you offered, thank you. I defer to the PA payroll guru here.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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        • #5
          If you can't have the amount withheld from their paycheck ... can you hold their final paycheck until they pay cash for the item and then can you tack on "administrative" (my boss changed her reference to the increased amount of money she would like to charge) costs? As you can see from the various threads I have started ... where I work is very interesting.

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          • #6
            No, you can't do that either. There is no provision in the law for holding paychecks.
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              I knew the answer to that one, but she didn't believe me ... so now I can show her this. Thank you.

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