Deductions from wages are prohibited by law unless the worker specifically authorises it in writing in advance under the S13 Employment Rights Act 1996. This is so even if the money is owed to the employer by the worker.
Despite the fact that an employer has no work available, he or she is still obligated to continue to pay employees who are willing to work.
Employees should also receive pay if they are sick or away on parental leave. This pay, though, may be less than normal depending on the contract. By law, most employees are entitled to the legal minimum statutory sick pay.
There are a number of circumstances where an employer can make deductions from an employee’s pay. Deductions for tax and national insurance are legal requirements. Furthermore, a clause in the employment contract can allow for deductions that cover union dues or payments to a pension scheme.
Other deductions will have to be agreed in writing before they are carried out. These could include genuine overpayments, industrial action or a court order.
Special rules apply to shop workers involved in cash shortages or missing stock. If an employer decides a deduction should be made, he or she must write to the employee giving details of the deduction. The deduction should be made within 12 months of the discovery of the shortage.