Deductions from Wages

​​​​You cannot collect previously paid wages from an employee.1 This prevents the fraud usually associated with kickbacks.2 It is also unlawful for you to withhold any part of a collectively bargained wage with intent to defraud an employee, a competitor or any other person.3 This prevents unlawful private agreements from nullifying collective bargaining contracts.4

The law also prohibits charging an employee for medical examinations required for employment or necessitated by law.5 You cannot make a deduction of any type unless authorized by law or by the employee’s written consent to cover medical plans or insurance.6 No deduction can occur if it represents an attempt to evade minimum wage laws or a valid collective bargaining agreement.7 Secret payments from employees back to you also violate the Labor Code.8

Employers who fail to make agreed upon payments to a health or welfare fund, pension fund, vacation plan, or similar plan for the benefit of employees are guilty of a crime (felony if the amount unpaid is over $500).

It is also a crime for an employer to fail to remit withholdings from an employee’s wages that were made pursuant to state, local or federal law (such as payroll taxes).

For information on deductions from exempt employees’ salaries, see Deductions From an Exempt Employee’s Salary.​


​1.Lab. Code sec. 221

2.Sublett v. Harry’s Tork & Taylor Lunch, 21 Cal. 2d 273 (1942)

3.Lab. Code sec. 222

4.Breitman v. Brady, 113 Cal. App. 2d 642 (1952)

5.Lab. Code sec. 222.5

6.Lab. Code sec. 224

7.Lab. Code sec. 222

8.Lab. Code sec. 223