My employer wants to deduct money from my salary without my input. Is that legal? He says I owe him money because stock went missing and I have to sign an admission of guilt.
Section 34 of the Basic Condition of Employment Act No. 75 of 1997 provides for deductions and other actions regarding remuneration.
Deductions from an employee’s salary may only take place after the employee has agreed in writing to the deduction of the specific amount in question, or when the deduction is done according to a collective agreement, the law, a court order, or an arbitration outcome.
If the employer wants to deduct money from the employee’s salary because of financial losses the employee suffered as a result of the employee’s actions, the employer may only deduct the money after a fair process has been followed and if the employer complied to a number of specific requirements, namely: (a) the damage had to happen while the employee was employed by the employer; (b) the employee had to be proven guilty that he or she caused the damage; (c) the employer had to follow a fair process; (d) the employee had to have an opportunity to explain why the deduction should not happen; (e) the deduction may not be more than the actual damage; and (f) the monthly deductions may not be more than a quarter of the employee’s salary.
We recommend that you do not sign the admission of guilt. Your employer (management) will have to follow a proper process first before they deduct the money from your salary. We suggest that you confirm in writing that you are not going to sign the admission of guilt. If the employer proceeds with the deduction, you may refer the matter to the Department of Labour.
This will certainly not prevent your employer to lodge a civil complaint against you for any damages suffered or for negligence. However, it is not fair for employers to simply shift operational risks such as missing stock to employees and then recover it from them as well. According to section 34 of the abovementioned Act, it would therefore be illegal.
Author: Phil Davel