Has my employer made unlawful deductions to my wages?

If your employer owes you money for one of the following reasons they are classified as unlawful deductions of wages:

  • you have not been paid notice pay

  • you have not been paid overtime that you are entitled to

  • you have not been paid a contractual bonus

  • you have not been paid redundancy pay

  • you have been overpaid and your employer makes unreasonable deductions from your wages to correct an overpayment rather than taking smaller amounts over a period of time

  • you work in retail and you have been docked pay because of cash shortages in the till or missing stock

The Employments Rights Act 1996 determines the circumstances in which:

  1. An employer can and cannot deduct wages from a worker’s salary; and
  2. An employer may receive a payment from a worker.

When can an employer deduct money from wages?

There are only three circumstances in which an employer can deduct money from wages.

  • It is required by law (for example, income tax, national insurance contributions);

  • The deductions are authorised in your contract;

  • You have provided written consent that the deductions may be made.

This can also be the case when the purpose of the deduction is reimbursement of:

  • An overpayment of wages

  • An overpayment in respect of expenses incurred by the worker in carrying out his employment

Unless your employment contract stipulates otherwise your employer is entitled to take money off your pay in the following circumstances.

  • If you are late work for work

  • If you take a day off work that your employer has not authorised.  For example, if you have not properly booked a day’s leave

  • If you are off sick and are not entitled to sick pay (except statutory pay) in your contract

  • If you take time off work to care for a child who is unwell and cannot go to school or nursery

  • If you are unable to get into work because the roads are blocked by snow.

  • If you are unable to attend work because you have to attend to an emergency at home.  For example, a flood.

The definition of wages includes:

  • Any fee, bonus, commission, holiday pay or any other emolument under the worker’s contract of employment

  • Statutory sick pay

  • Statutory maternity pay

  • Statutory paternity pay or additional statutory paternity pay

  • Statutory adoption pay

  • A guarantee payment

  • Any payment for time off under Part VI of the Employment Rights Act 1996 or section 169 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

  • Remuneration on suspension on medical grounds and remuneration on suspension on maternity grounds pursuant to sections 64 and 68 or the Employment Rights Act 1996

  • Remuneration on ending the supply of an agency worker on maternity grounds;

  • Any sum payable pursuant to an order for reinstatement or re-engagement by an Employment Tribunal

  • Any sum payable by order of an Employment Tribunal for the continuation of a contract of employment under section 130 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 or section 164 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992

  • Remuneration under a protective award under the Employment Rights Act 1996, section189.

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