Dear Aunty B,
Recently, one of the staff members at the place I work broke an expensive juicer by using a knife to push down fruit instead of the plunger. Yes, it was a silly and dangerous thing to do and they have been reprimanded. But because it damaged the juicer to a point it can’t be used, my employer has threatened to dock the employee’s pay if insurance doesn’t cover it.
In another example, a couple of employees forgot to put up signs on the counter that advertised a new outlet for the store was just opened down stairs. The employer again threatened to dock pay for the lost sales due to the signs not being up.
It hasn’t actually happened (the docking of pay) but for a good week the threats in these two situations kept coming and the employees involved felt vulnerable and frankly scared.
My question is this – can an employer actually dock an employee’s pay? If so, under what circumstances?
The employer doesn’t have a leg to stand on and their understanding of workplace law is as broken as that blender.
The only circumstances where a deduction can lawfully be made from an employee’s entitlements are when it’s for an employee’s benefit, and even then, a specific sum must be agreed upon in writing before any money gets docked.
The employees have every reason to feel vulnerable and scared, but if your boss actually docks their pay, it’s them who will be scared when the Fair Work Ombudsman comes knocking at the door.
Your Aunty B