When can my employer deduct money from my paycheck?

Laws are in place to protect your rights as a worker in New York. You are entitled to receive overtime pay for work beyond the 40-hours-per-week limit. Your employer is also prohibited from paying you a wage lower than the state’s minimum wage.

Laws are also in place that prevent your employer from making any illegal deductions from your pay. But your employer can take part of your wages in certain instances. It’s important to understand when this can happen to you. 

Allowable instances when an employer can take from your pay

New York laws prohibit all employers from making any deductions from their employee’s wages, except when it comes to these specific instances:

  • For government-related reasons: Your employer can deduct pay in order to follow the provisions of a law, rule or regulation from a government agency. This includes a regulation issued by the state labor commissioner that allows an employer to recover an overpayment of wages if the overpayment was due to a clerical error. Or rules that enable the employer to collect repayments for wage advances.
  • When the deductions are for the employee’s benefit: Your employer can also deduct amounts from your paycheck to cover expenses that directly help you – but you must opt into these deductions voluntarily. Your employer also must give you written notice of any terms and conditions of the benefits. These benefits include (but aren’t limited to) insurance premiums, pension benefits, contributions to charity, bonds, discounts, purchases made at your employer’s place of business and so on.

Any other reason to deduct your wage outside these two is illegal. 

Illegal wage deductions

If your employer deducts from your wage for the following reasons, they are breaking state law:

  • To pay for broken business property or fines against the business
  • To pay for the business’ loss of profits or overhead expenses
  • Charges for a check replacement
  • To cover overcharges for paid family leave premiums

You have the right to fair pay. You can hold your employer accountable if they try to dock your paycheck for any unlawful reason. If this happens to you, consider consulting with a legal professional experienced in employment law. A lawyer can fight for your rights in court and ensure you get your deserved pay.

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