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Can my employer deduct from my salary

Can my employer deduct from my salary?

So you are wondering if your employer can deduct from your salary? Well, according to section 34(1) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), an employer may not make unauthorized deductions from an employee’s salary without the employees’ consent. This excludes statutory (Legally required) deductions such as PAYE, UIF or any other deduction ordered by a court of law such as a garnishee order.

So can your employer deduct from your salary?

Well, yes under certain circumstances. However not whenever or however they please. In fact, there are a few requirements that need to be met before an employer may deduct from a staff member’s salary or wage. The requirements are as follows;

1) The employer must have the consent of the staff member.
2) The deduction is required or permitted by law.
3) There is a collective agreement, arbitration or court order in place.

Deductions that would not be permitted according to the BCEA are:

1) A fine that an employer gives an employee for misconduct of any kind.
2) Loss of income an employer feels they are entitled to due to the employees’ negligence or misconduct. Unless the employee has accepted liability to the loss and does not dispute the amount.

Can my employer deduct from my salary to recover a loss or for damage that was my fault?

Yes. As you can see from above there are cases when an employer will hold an employee liable for a loss or damage. However, the employer may not make these deductions without first conducting a hearing and ensuring that the employee was in fact at fault. If the employee does not feel that they are at fault they should be given a fair chance to state why they should not be held liable for the loss or damage. The hearing should aim to answer the following questions;

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1) Was the employee the cause of the loss or damage?
2) Was the loss or damage caused during the course of employment?

If the answer is yes to both, and the employee is not able to dispute the findings, then the employer may recover the debt from the staff member on the following terms;

1) The total amount recovered from the staff member does not exceed the total amount of the loss or damage.
2) The monthly / weekly deduction amount is not more then ¼ of the employee’s remuneration for that period.
3) The employer may not charge interest on the amount owing.

Have you ever had unauthorized deductions appearing on your payslip that you were unaware of? Please tell us about it in the comments, I would love to hear your story.

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  1. Avatar
    Jarred Manuel says:

    I work for a Company Bytes System Intergrations.
    That has agreed to pay a transportation fee as long as I am based at a specific site.
    The amount was then taken away and when asked about about it they reply “they made a mistake” but still have not been paid 2 months later

    • Peter Breedveld
      Peter Breedveld says:

      Hi Jarred,

      Thank you very much for the comment. Did you get this agreement in writing? If so I think you would have a pretty easy case to claim that transportation fee. It is always better to get an agreement in writing. It not only helps to make sure everyone is on the same page as far as the agreement goes, but most importantly a written agreement often keeps people honest..

      Good luck,

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