Q. Our small business sometimes gets calls from loan providers or collection agencies about our employees. What information are we required to give? — Ann, Kentucky
A. Absent the employee’s signed permission, the answer is probably that you have no obligation to respond at all. Often, an employee will ask you to verify his or her employment and current salary to a loan provider in connection with his application for a mortgage or other loan. If you respond, you are under no obligation to give an opinion about the employee’s likely job security. And if this is an at-will employee, there is good reason not to give such information, even if asked.
Regarding collection agencies, if you receive a wage garnishment order through your local courts or federal agencies, you must respond. Or, it’s likely you will receive an order directing you to garnish the employee’s wages to pay his or her debts. Otherwise, most employers are under no obligation to respond to the requests of private entities claiming to be creditors of their employees.