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Equal Rights Division Newsletter - December 13, 2021

See a deduction on your paycheck that you don't recognize?

Most people are used to seeing certain deductions on their paychecks for things like taxes and health insurance. But deductions from wages for the loss of a tool or property damage may come as more of a surprise. Wisconsin law prohibits employers from deducting wages from an employee's paycheck for faulty workmanship, lost or stolen property, or property damage unless the employee authorizes the deduction in writing after the incident happens and before the deduction is taken.

Wage deduction image

Can my employer have me sign a "blanket" agreement for these kinds of deductions at the start of my employment?

No. Employers can't require employees to sign a blanket agreement to pay for loss, theft, damage, or faulty workmanship. Additionally, any agreement to deduct wages for these types of loss must be made in writing - verbal agreements don't count. Even if there is a current court case against an employee by an employer to recoup the cost of the loss, the employer cannot withhold wages until after the court's decision. If an employer makes an unauthorized deduction, they may be liable for twice the amount of the deduction.

What can be deducted from my paycheck?

The law does not pertain to agreements to pay for items such as uniforms. An employer and employee may agree to deductions from wages for uniforms or other things that are not specifically loss, theft, damage, or faulty workmanship.

Know Your Rights

Employers have the right to recoup costs for loss, theft, damage, or faulty workmanship so long as it is agreed upon and in writing after the loss has occurred and before any wages are deducted.


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