When can my employer deduct money from my salary?

Employers are prohibited from making any deductions from an employee’s salary, without the employee’s written consent, except for statutory deductions such as PAYE and SITE tax, UIF, or any other deduction required by law – such as a garnishee order – or if the deduction has been agreed in a contract of employment such as pension or provident fund or medical aid deductions, or any other deduction where there may be agreement between employer and employee for the deduction.

What are envisaged here are deductions such as for money owing to the employer by the employee, perhaps for goods purchased by the employee from the employer, or payment for private telephone calls, or other usage of the employer’s resources?

A deduction may be made to reimburse an employer for loss or damage only if:
The loss or damage occurred in the course of employment and was due to the fault of the employee;
The employer has followed a fair procedure and has given the employee a reasonable opportunity to show why the deductions should not be made;
The total amount of the debt does not exceed the actual amount of the loss or damage; and the total deductions from the employee’s remuneration in terms of this subsection do not exceed one-quarter of the employee’s remuneration in money.

In instances where the employer is holding the employee liable for a loss or damage, the employer may not make deductions from the employee salary unless the employee has been given a fair hearing, and it has been proved that the loss or damage was due to the negligence of the employee, that it occurred during the course of his employment, and the employee has been given a fair opportunity to state why he should not be held liable for the loss or damage. This in fact, amounts to a “mini disciplinary hearing.”

The employer may not charge the employee interest on the amount in dispute.
The deduction may also not exceed 25% of the employee’s remuneration in money per month, or per week or per fortnight, or per day, depending on how the employee is paid.