In addition to satisfying minimum wage and overtime requirements, employers are generally expected to pay employees all of the compensation they earn.
In New York, there are strict rules covering the deductions (New York Labor Laws, § 193) that an employer is legally allowed to make from an employee’s wages. In general, an employer is not allowed to make unauthorized deductions from a paycheck, except where it is for the purposes of federal or state tax, or a court-ordered payment (such as child support). These New York wage deduction rules apply to all private employers, but not governmental entities such as municipalities and school districts.
Section 193 of the New York Labor Law says that “no employer shall make any deductions from the wages of an employee except deductions which are:
1. Made in accordance with any law or rule.
2. Are expressly authorized in writing by the employee and are for the benefit of the employee, provided that such authorization is voluntary and only given following receipt by the employee of written notice of all terms and conditions of the payment and/or its benefits and the details of the manner in which deductions will be made.
This category is limited to payments for:
insurance premiums and prepaid legal plans;
pension or health and welfare benefits;
contributions to a bona fide charitable organization;
purchases made at events sponsored by a bona fide charitable organization affiliated with the employer where at least 20% of the event’s profits are being contributed to a bona fide charitable organization;
United States bonds;
dues or assessments to a labor organization;
discounted parking or discounted passes, tokens, fare cards, vouchers, or other items that entitle the employee to use mass transit;
fitness center, health club, and/or gym membership dues;
cafeteria and vending machine purchases made at the employer’s place of business and purchases made at gift shops operated by the employer, where the employer is a hospital, college, or university;
pharmacy purchases made at the employer’s place of business;
tuition, room, board, and fees for pre-school, nursery, primary, secondary, and/or post-secondary educational institutions;
daycare, before-school, and after-school care expenses;
payments for housing provided at no more than market rates by non-profit hospitals or affiliates thereof; and
similar payments for the benefit of the employee.
3. Related to the recovery of an overpayment of wages where such overpayment is due to a mathematical or other clerical error by the employer.
4. Related to the repayment of advances of salary or wages made by the employer to the employee.
5. Deductions made in conjunction with an employer sponsored pre-tax contribution plan approved by the IRS or other local taxing authority.”
New York businesses could face substantial penalties for failing to pay wages due to employees. This includes making unlawful wage deductions. Beyond taxes and standard employee benefits, such as insurance coverages, there are few permissible deductions from wages in New York. If you have any questions regarding wage deductions please reach out to PMP with your questions.