The short answer to this question is yes. Employers in New York can deduct money from your paycheck, but only for specific purposes under limited circumstances. Improper deductions from your paycheck, whether intentional or not, can add up quickly and cost you a lot of money.
The law allows employers to make four types of legitimate deductions from paychecks, including for:
- Withholdings in accordance with government laws, rules, or regulations
- Deductions authorized by and for the benefit of the employee
- Recovery of overpayments due to employer’s mathematical or clerical errors
- Repayment of salary advances
Some of the more common examples of these deductions include:
- Healthcare benefits
- Retirement benefits
- Gym membership dues
- Food and lodging, in some cases
- Parking and transportation costs
- Tax withholdings
- Wage garnishment
- Day care and tuition expenses
These deductions can be lawful, but employees should know about and authorize them. If your employer makes these deductions without your knowledge or approval, it can be crucial to address the matter immediately.
Employers might claim that they are permitted to make other types of deductions from your paycheck, which may be improper – and illegal. Some common examples of unlawful deductions include:
- Recovering losses from damage or spoilage caused by employees
- Recovering losses from theft
- Repayment for shortages in a cash register or petty cash bank
- The cost of clothing or tools required for the job
- Fines for being late
- Penalties for misconduct or excessive leave
- Contributions to political campaigns
If your employer is deducting money from your paycheck for any of these reasons, you may have grounds to seek repayment of these improper deductions.
Identifying improper deductions
Employers may not notify you about deductions they make from your pay, particularly if they know that the deductions are improper.
If you are curious or concerned that your employer is making wrongful deductions, review your paychecks and W-4s and look for inconsistencies or strange items and make note of when the deductions were made.
Whether you review your paystubs yourself or seek help from a professional, accurate records are crucial to ensure that you receive all of the money you have earned. If you discover any improper deductions on your paycheck, you should consider consulting with an experienced employment attorney to discuss your options and the potential remedies available to you.