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Why is a garnishee order so complicated & what must you check in this order?

Ian Hurst

What must you check in your garnishee order?

We’re all familiar with the garnishee order, that legal document which instructs us, the employer, to deduct an amount of money every month from one of our employee’s wages and pay that over to another company, for example a law firm. I’ve always believed it was a simple procedure until I started reading and investigating exactly what was required of me.

5 reasons why a garnishee order is not so simple

  1. Your company can be held liable for your employee’s outstanding debt if the garnishee was correctly served but you didn’t deduct the money.
  2. You must pay the money over to the company demanding payment by the last day of each month or otherwise you’ll face penalties and interest which will be added to the employee’s account.
  3. You can withhold an administration fee (5%) but this is sum is then added to the employee’s debt. I don’t think that this is really ethical…
  4. We have to communicate with our employees, tell them about the garnishee orders but also let them know what their rights are. It is our duty as employers to assist our employees in any way possible.
  5. You don’t need your employee’s consent to deduct this money from his salary.

4 things you must check when you receive a garnishee order

  1. Has the employee consented to the garnishee order? This must be written consent and is very often given when, for example, the contract to lend money is concluded. 
  2. Does the employee work for me? If the e mployee works for you then you need to tell him he has a garnishee order against his salary. If the employee doesn’t, or no longer, work(s) for you notify the clerk of the court that issued the garnishee order and the company demanding payment that this person does not work for you.
  3. Is this garnishee legal and binding? According to the law, a garnishee order must be obtained in courts that have jurisdiction over the alleged debtor’s home or workplace.
  4. Is this garnishee affordable? The law makes provision for the garnishee to be affordable and the magistrate must ensure the employee can afford to pay the amount before he issues the garnishee order. In practice, this does not happen very often so it is our duty to assist our employees where we can. If the employee feels that he can’t afford the garnishee order he can appeal the garnishee amount.

Ian Hurst is the owner of Paymaster Outsource and Paymaster Online Payroll Solutions. He is passionate about payroll and payroll systems, he firmly believes in the partnerships that can be created when a great software product and dedicated service people come together.