While some employers deduct the cost of supplies and uniforms from their employees’ paychecks, and others deduct money to pay for cash register shortages or breakage, these deductions are not always legal. Some states, including New Jersey, forbid these types of deductions by employers from their employees’ paychecks. In states in which these deductions are allowed, the employers are required to adhere to certain rules.
Under federal law, employers are allowed to deduct the costs that employers incur to supply and maintain uniforms as long as the employee’s resulting pay doesn’t fall below the minimum wage. Employers are not allowed to require employees who are making the minimum wage to pay for their uniforms in any way, and the deduction may not reduce the worker’s overtime pay.
New Jersey’s law is stricter. In the state, employers are not allowed to deduct the cost of a uniform from any worker’s pay, including those who make more than the state’s minimum wage of $8.60 per hour. Employers may deduct the costs of cleaning and maintaining a uniform, but they can only do so if the employee consents.
Equipment and tools
Under federal law, tools are treated in the same manner as uniforms. This means that employers may take deductions for the equipment and tools that the employees need for the job as long as their resulting pay doesn’t fall below the federal minimum wage. In New Jersey, employers may not divert or deduct any of an employee’s wages to pay for tools and other supplies.
Meals and lodging
Under federal law, employers may deduct the cost of providing lodging and food to workers regardless of whether those deductions bring the worker’s total pay to less than the minimum wage. For instance, federal law allows employers in restaurants to deduct the employee’s meal that the employee eats during his or her shift.
Federal law allows employers to deduct lodging and meals only if the items that are normally provided to workers in the industry and the employee accepts them voluntarily. The costs that can be charged must be reasonable and not what customers are charged.
Breakage and shortages
Federal law allows employers to deduct from your paycheck if your cash register is short or you damage products as long as the deductions do not drop you below the minimum wage. In New Jersey, however, employers are not allowed to deduct from your paycheck if your register is short or for breakage.
If your employer has been making illegal deductions from your paycheck, it is important for you to get legal help from an attorney at Swartz Swidler. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.