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When an employer can withhold some of your pay

Posted by on Oct 21, 2012 in HR Issues, Legal, Moneyville | 0 comments

Read this blog and comments on moneyville.ca

October 09, 2012

In the aftermath of the recent tragic “gas and dash” death of a Toronto gas station attendant, his widow told CBC News Jayesh Prajapati may have chased the SUV that dragged him to his death because he was worried about having to cover the driver’s $112 unpaid bill.

The Ontario of Ministry of Labour subsequently tweeted a link to the relevant rules under the Ontario Employment Standards Act. The legislation says there are only three types of deductions that can be withheld from your wages:

Statutory deductions:  Deductions can be made according to federal and provincial legislation. They include Income Tax, Employment Insurance Premiums and Canada Pension Plan contributions. The money deducted by your employer must be remitted to the proper authorities.

Court orders & garnishment: A court may order an employer to garnishee your wages and pay the money into court. One circumstance in which this could occur is if you are in arrears on child support payments. The money deducted must be paid out in accordance with the court order.

Written authorization: Your employer may deduct money from your wages if agree in writing. Your authorization must say that you agree to the deduction and specify the amount of money or a method of calculating the amount of money to be deducted.

For example, you may authorize your company to deduct money for your company pension plan or premiums for employee benefits like dental insurance. However, even with your written authorization, a salary deduction is not permitted in the following circumstances:

* There is a loss to the company due to faulty work, a mistake in a credit card transaction, work that is spoiled or rejected or damage to the company’s tools or vehicles.

* There is a cash shortage, lost or stolen property if someone other than you had control over or access to the cash or property. For example, if customers leave without paying the bill, like in the “gas and dash” situation described above.

Private Member’s Bill 124 called “Jayesh’s Law” was also introduced September 20, 2012 seeking to further protect the income and safety of gas station attendants.

In addition, exceptions to the three rules above apply to wage deductions of prescribed amounts for room and board for agricultural workers  and live-in domestic workers providing the employee is paid the  minimum wage before deductions are made and actually receives the meals and occupies the room.

If you think the company is improperly making deductions from your wages, first speak to your employer. If matters cannot be resolved, you can find out what how to make an Employment Standards Act claim here.


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