Q. We’ve started requiring employees to repay the company (through payroll deduction) for training costs if they quit or are fired within one year. Are we OK legally? —S.M., Kentucky
A. Here’s a good rule of thumb for all employers: If you think a payroll deduction sounds illegal, it probably is. Payroll deductions shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for discipline. And they certainly shouldn’t be used to “stick it” to departing employees.
It’s a pretty safe bet that this payroll deduction plan would violate federal and state wage laws. As a practical matter, whenever you make atypical payroll deductions from an employee’s final paycheck, you’re inviting trouble.