Definition of payroll deduction
In certain cases, an employer is authorized to withhold part of the sums due by one of his employees from the sums due for his salary directly on his payslip, this is called salary deduction. . The law authorizes, subject to conditions, the employer to withhold part of the sum to be paid to the employee, as his pay. Deduction from wages is, however, very limited since it can only intervene in cases strictly enumerated by law or case law.
Payroll deduction: authorized situations
Deduction from wages in the event of deterioration of equipment
If an employee intentionally damages equipment, the employer is authorized to make a deduction from wages for material damage. This deduction from wages requires the employer to demonstrate the employee’s gross negligence, namely a fault committed voluntarily with the intention of harming the employer or the company.
The equipment concerned is that which is under the responsibility of the employee and which is necessary for the exercise of his activity. Under these conditions, the employer may withhold from the employee’s salary the cost of repairing the equipment or its cost of buying back.
Withholding from wages as compensation
The employer is authorized to make a deduction from wages if the employee owes a sum of money to him, this is the compensation mechanism. Under the Civil Code, two debts are offset when they are fungible (their object is a sum of money), certain (their existence cannot be contested), payable (they have come due) and liquid (their amount is determined). Thus, an employer can make a deduction from wages:
- When the employee has received too much salary due to salary maintenance.
- When the employee owes sums to his employer because of a deduction-training clause.
- When the employee has benefited from an overpayment due to the acquisition of meal vouchers.
- When sums have been paid to an employee in application of a transaction which ultimately turned out to be null.
The amount of payroll deduction is equal to the debt owed by the employee to his employer.
Payroll deduction for absence
An employer cannot withhold wages as a penalty. However, the Court of Cassation ruled that the deduction from wages made by an employer because of the employee’s absence in proportion to the duration of the absence is not illegal. An employer is therefore authorized to make a deduction from wages in the event of unjustified absence, in the event of delay, etc. If the employee’s work is not performed, the employer is effectively entitled to reduce his salary in proportion to his time of absence. The deduction from wages must therefore be made by multiplying the hourly remuneration of the employee by the number of hours of absence in the month.
Example : if an employee earns 3,000 euros per month for 157 hours of work and has been on unjustified absence for 24 hours of work, the deduction from wages is equal to 24 hours x (3,000 euros / 157) or 459 euros.
Limit on payroll deduction
The employer can only withhold from the wages of an employee an amount which complies with the ceiling of the garnishable fraction of the wages. This ceiling is as follows for 2021:
- 1 / 20th of the remuneration on the bracket less than or equal to 3,870 euros;
- 1 / 10th of the remuneration on the portion greater than 3,870 euros and less than or equal to 7,550 euros;
- 1 / 5th of the remuneration on the portion greater than 7,550 euros and less than or equal to 11,250 euros;
- 1/4 of the remuneration on the portion greater than 11,250 euros and less than or equal to 14,930 euros;
- 1/3 of the compensation on the portion greater than 14,930 euros and less than or equal to 18,610 euros;
- 2/3 of the remuneration on the portion greater than 18,610 euros and less than or equal to 22,360 euros;
- all compensation for the portion above 22,360 euros.
This ceiling is increased by 1,490 euros per dependent and per year.
A noter : when an employee does not agree on the application of a deduction on wages or on its amount, he can seize the Labor Court to dispute. It will then be up to the employer to provide proof of the validity of this deduction from wages or of its amount.