Deductions from Wages for Faulty Workmanship, Loss, Theft, or Damage

In Wisconsin, employers can only deduct for loss, theft, damage, or faulty workmanship if the employee authorizes the deduction in writing after the incident happens and before any deductions are taken.

No employer may make any deduction from the wages earned by any employee for faulty workmanship, lost or stolen property, or damage to property, unless:

  1. The employee authorizes the employer in writing to make that deduction;
  2. The employer and a representative designated by the employee determine that the faulty workmanship, loss, theft, or damage was due to the employee's negligence, carelessness, or willful and intentional conduct; or
  3. The employee is found guilty or held liable in a court of law.

If an unauthorized deduction is made, the employer may be liable for twice the amount of the deduction.

Frequently Asked Questions

May the employer require employees to sign a "blanket" authorization to deduct for loss, theft, damage, or faulty workmanship?

No. An employer may not deny an employee the right to disagree with fault for the particular incident of loss.

May an employee authorize a deduction from wages by signing a time card, a daily checkout sheet, or by endorsing a payroll check?

No. A signature required for any other purpose (to endorse a check, to sign a time sheet) cannot serve the dual purpose of authorizing a deduction.

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