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Can your employer withhold your pay for mistakes at work?

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2023 | Wage & Hour Laws

The Illinois Department of Labor reported that workers have filed wage theft claims totaling over $194 million since 2017. Employees often wonder about their rights when it comes to their paychecks. One common concern is whether an employer can legally withhold pay for mistakes made on the job. This can be a particularly stressful issue for workers who might already be facing the consequences of a workplace error.

Understanding the legalities of wage deductions is important for employees to ensure they receive fair treatment at work.

What the law says

According to Illinois law, employers cannot deduct wages from an employee’s paycheck for mistakes, errors or negligence. This includes accidental cash shortages, breakage or damage to the employer’s property and any losses due to a client not paying. Lawmakers designed the law to protect employees from unfair wage deductions.

Exceptions to the rule

However, there are some exceptions where deductions from an employee’s wages are legal. For example, an employer can make deductions that the law requires them to do so, such as for taxes or court-ordered wage garnishments. Employers can also make deductions with the express written consent of the employee for certain purposes, such as for contributions to retirement plans or for the repayment of loans or advances given to the employee by the employer.

Understanding the protections put in place is important for employees to ensure they are receiving fair treatment. If an employee finds that their pay has been unfairly deducted, they should take steps to address the situation, including bringing the matter to the attention of their employer or seeking guidance from the relevant state department responsible for labor laws. Employees should know their rights to ensure they receive fair and lawful treatment in the workplace.