Wage Deductions: Know Your Rights as an Employee in Massachusetts
Understanding Wage Deductions: Your Rights as a Massachusetts Employee
If you're a worker in Massachusetts, it's crucial to understand your rights when it comes to wage deductions. The Massachusetts Wage Act mandates timely payment of all wages and sets strict limitations on what your employer can deduct from your paycheck. Being informed about these regulations can help you protect your hard-earned money and ensure you're treated fairly.
Unauthorized Deductions Can Be a Violation of Your Rights
Many employees are unaware that only a few deductions from their paychecks are allowable under state law. Any improper deductions could potentially violate the Wage Act, putting your employer at risk of facing significant penalties, including triple damages.
Understanding Valid Deductions
The Wage Act allows for "valid set-offs" from the wages of employees paid a salary or hourly wage. When it comes to commission payments, the Act specifies that these payments must be made "less allowable or authorized deductions."
You have the right to expect certain deductions from your wages, such as union dues, income taxes, or health insurance premiums. These deductions are authorized by statute and serve both the interests of the employer and the employee.
What's Not Allowed?
Your employer cannot make deductions from your paycheck that primarily benefit their interests and not yours. Deductions for expenses like the cost of uniforms or other equipment, which should be part of your employer's overhead expenses, are generally not permitted.
Protecting Your Rights: What to Do
If you find yourself in a situation where you suspect unauthorized wage deductions, it's essential to take action. Understanding your rights is the first step. Here are some key points to consider:
1. Taxes and Benefits: Employers are required to withhold federal and state income taxes, as well as social security taxes, from your wages. You can manage your tax withholdings by adjusting the number of exemptions on your Form W-4. Additionally, your employer may deduct pre-tax payments for employee benefits like health, life, and dental insurance.
2. Employee Liabilities or Obligations: If you owe your employer money due to a loan or for damage to company property, your employer can hold you responsible for these obligations. However, specific rules must be followed, including due process and clear agreement terms.
3. Garnishment or Liens: If you have a court-ordered garnishment for reasons such as child support or civil judgments, your employer can deduct as required by the garnishment order.
4. Training or Signing Bonus Reimbursement: If you signed an agreement to repay certain amounts, like relocation expenses or training costs, your employer can enforce these agreements. However, they must adhere to legal guidelines for deductions.
5. Commission-Based Employees: Commissions are considered wages under the Wage Act, but deductions can be more complex. If you're paid on commission, it's wise to consult with an employment lawyer to ensure the deductions from your commissions are lawful.
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How Our Wage and Hour Lawyers Can Help
If you're concerned about wage deductions and your rights as an employee in Massachusetts, our experienced legal team is here to assist you. We can provide guidance, review your specific situation, and help you take the necessary steps to protect your hard-earned wages. You can use the button below to schedule a call back from a member of our team, or give us a call at 781-784-2322.