Wage Deductions

The Department of Labor allows for deductions from an employee's wages on a limited basis. Deductions fall into several categories:

  • deductions to cover the employer's cost for furnishing lodging or board to the employee;
  • deductions for such items as tools and uniforms;
  • deductions that the employee has authorized, such as union dues, or those authorized by law, as taxes or garnishments;
  • reductions in a fixed salary because the employee did not work the full schedule; and
  • deductions for disciplinary reasons. In the state of Texas, garnishment may not be effected except in the enforcement of court-ordered child support payments.

An employer is prohibited from withholding any part of an employee's earnings unless the employer has been authorized to do so by 1) an appropriate court of law, or by 2) federal law, as with federal income taxes or student loans, by 3) Texas law, as with child support payments or by 4) authorization from the employee. The employer must begin withholding the deductions no later than the first full pay period following the date of receiving the writ or order. These withholdings are to remain in place a long as the employee remains with the employer or until the court directs otherwise. In addition, the employer may not withhold more than 50% of the employee's "disposable earnings," even if a withholding order designates a greater amount. According to the Texas Family Code, "disposable earnings" are those that remain after the deductions required by law, union dues, retirement contributions, and medical insurance have been withheld. If an employer fails to comply with a wage withholding order, he or she will be held liable to both the party who was to receive the support and to the employee for the money withheld but not paid, for any attorney fees or court costs and a fine up to $200 for each occurrence.

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