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What are allowable wage deductions Florida

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  • What are allowable wage deductions Florida

    We had an employee walk off the job without notifying anyone, and did not return the same day nor contact anyone to say that he was not coming back. The employee did leave a nasty note to the company owner laying blame on the owner for mistakes that the employee himself made and was asked to correct. The letter indicated that he would wait for the owner to contact him "when you (the owner) can stop blaming me (employee)" and also threatening "keep talking to me this way, you will be doing this yourself". We are receiving this letter as his final resignation. Can we do that?

    This employee in the very recent past used the company credit card for unauthorized charges (as clearly explained in our employee handbook which the employee signed an agreement to abide by) during a work trip, but had not been reprimanded for these charges as they happened just before he walked off the job. He also had a personal loan from the company which he has failed to fully repay. He has a final paycheck owed to him and will be processed at the regularly scheduled date, and has accrued vacation hours. The loan plus the unauthorized charges are well over the amount they employee would receive for vacation pay. As this will be the final check we would like to know if we are legally able to deduct any, some, or none of the monies owed back to the company.

    The employee also has possession of a company owned cell phone and uniforms provided by and paid for by the company via a uniform service. We will be asking that he return these items within a specified period of time, as our handbook states that these items are to be returned prior to separation which the employee has failed to follow.

    I have a few questions regarding what we are allowed to do legally to recoup some or all of these funds:

    1. Can we deduct the unauthorized credit card charges from payroll even though he was not yet able to be notified that they would be deducted from payroll?
    2. Can we deduct the personal loan to the employee from the company?
    3. Can we withhold accrued vacation hours in order to recoup any of the above charges?
    4. What recourse do we have if he does not return the phone or uniforms?
    5. How solid is our company handbook, being that it was signed by the employee?

    If anyone has any insight on these issues that would be very much appreciated! Thank you for your time

  • #2
    Skipping all the legal questions of this deduction, that deduction, what I would do is tell him he has 72 hours to return the company property and pay back the unauthorized charges and the loan, or you will go to the police and file charges for theft. KISS principle.

    Comment


    • #3
      We are receiving this letter as his final resignation. Can we do that? **** straight. Can and should.

      1. Can we deduct the unauthorized credit card charges from payroll even though he was not yet able to be notified that they would be deducted from payroll?
      2. Can we deduct the personal loan to the employee from the company?
      3. Can we withhold accrued vacation hours in order to recoup any of the above charges?
      4. What recourse do we have if he does not return the phone or uniforms?
      5. How solid is our company handbook, being that it was signed by the employee?


      1 & 2 - In your state you can probably get away with that AS LONG AS you still pay him minimum wage times hours worked and any overtime that may be due. I'm by no means convinced it's the best option out there or that you should do so but your state has very weak wage and hour laws so as long as minimum wage and OT laws are followed, you would probably still be technically legal. Future readers should please note that in other states this answer would be quite different.

      3.) In your state, you are not obligated to pay out vacation hours at all.

      4.) To sue his ***. Which, in my opinion, is what you should be doing with ALL the costs, instead of messing around with payroll deductions.

      5.) I've no idea. I haven't read it.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

      Comment


      • #4
        Agreed with CBG. Past that, you are raising questions which should have been resolved a long time. There is no employee right to vacation or cell phones or loans. Get the paperwork resolved PRIOR to handing these things out. As CBG says, federal law (FLSA) cares about minimum wage, overtime and child labor only. FLSA cannot be waived. But as long as these FLSA rules are followed, federal law does not care and the mostly non-existent FL law does not care. At best you have contract law to contend with.
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for your responses

          Thank you very much for your responses. I agree that these issues should have been resolved long ago, and if I were the company owner they would have been dealt with immediately. I will definitely bring this information to the attention of the company owner so that we do not have such issues in the future.

          Comment


          • #6
            FL is an easy state for this sort of thing because it is mostly a "just like fed" state that does not directly enforce what little law it does have (no state DOL). There is actually some advantage to being in a "hard" state like CA because people are more likely to take the rules more seriously prior to taking the action. It is useful in all 50 states to.

            1. Never give out property without having the employee first sign a voluntary deduction agreement. And having the policies in place spelling out exactly what happens No signature, no property. Make the advance of property enforceable in court, just in case.

            2. Treat all loans very formally. Loan agreement specific to the state law and everything. Something very enforceable in court.

            3. There is no federal law on vacation and other then maybe CA, most state law (if any) basically says "follow your policy". Employers should write their policies in such a way to facilitate recover of debts. CA is a problem here, since in CA vacation is statutory.

            4. Minimum wage and overtime are third rails. Do not mess with them unless you are POSITIVE you know what you doing.
            Last edited by DAW; 01-05-2016, 01:40 PM.
            "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
            Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

            Comment


            • #7
              sitting on the bench next to DAW.....That is the best advice I have seen and learned from him over the years!

              Comment


              • #8
                Off topic, but in the 1980s I went to a labor law class in which the presenter said
                there is no actual law requiring "verbal warning, written warning, termination", but that smart employers act like there is, not because the court requires but if they fail to develop that type of mindset, they will make mistakes. I wrote an article for PPM about the Universal Helpline, which started out "I jumped out the airplane without a parachute, what do I do next"? Most labor law answers are not so much "what do I do next" but rather "what should I have done first". You do not want to win court cases. You want to avoid court cases.
                "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                Comment


                • #9
                  *stands back and applauds DAW*


                  " 2. Treat all loans very formally. Loan agreement specific to the state law and everything. Something very enforceable in court."

                  Agreed, and further, write into the agreement that if the employee quits/is terminated, the loan at the employer's discretion can become immediately due and payable in full, and that you can use any wages due at that time towards the balance (but still don't mess with anyone's MW or OT)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DAW View Post
                    There is no federal law on vacation and other then maybe CA, most state law (if any) basically says "follow your policy". Employers should write their policies in such a way to facilitate recover of debts. CA is a problem here, since in CA vacation is statutory.
                    DAW, FYI, MA law requires payout of any accrued but unused PTO time.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There are several states which require vacation to be paid out. A contract for loan repayment may trump that. It is best to run that by counsel first. Personally, I would go ahead and file in small claims court (assuming the value is within the threshold). It tells him you are not messing around and might spur him into action.
                      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HRinMA View Post
                        DAW, FYI, MA law requires payout of any accrued but unused PTO time.
                        So does Illinois, and there are a couple of others. I don't recall all of them but I always remember CA, MA and IL.

                        CA stands alone in requiring that vacation accrue as it goes, but she has several sisters in the matter of unused vacation payout.
                        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Agreed there are other states but CA requirements are actually written into the CLC and there are serious court cases supporting the law. The other states mentioned (last I checked) have rules that are a function of regulations or administrative action. I think that the MA rule (for example) is a function of a letter issued by their Attorney General. Not nothing, but legally not exactly the same thing as an actual law. A sufficiently aggressive employer in those states could go to court with a certain chance of winning. In CA the court cases have already happened and then CA formally updated the CLC to formally support the court cases. Which is why the supporting regulations are somewhat strange in CA because the current CA-DLSE does not want to issue administrative decisions beyond the scope of the court decisions and the CLC. CA-DLSE has had vacation related administrative decisions overturned in court in the past. They had a commissioner resign because of an opinion letter that blew up in court.
                          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DAW View Post
                            I wrote an article for PPM about the Universal Helpline, which started out "I jumped out the airplane without a parachute, what do I do next"? Most labor law answers are not so much "what do I do next" but rather "what should I have done first".
                            I love this!!
                            Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                            Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Dedcutions from Final Paycheck even if it cuts into MW & Ot

                              "where an employer makes a loan or an advance of wages to an employee, the principal may be deducted from the employee’s earnings even if such deduction cuts into the minimum wage or overtime pay due the employee under the FLSA."


                              See this opinion letter
                              http://www.dol.gov/whd/opinion/FLSAN...d_vacation.pdf
                              ========================================

                              "A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The 'United States of America', for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'" (Author unknown)

                              Comment

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