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Many of our company's projects are on military bases which…

Many of our company's projects...
Many of our company's projects are on military bases which require a specific type of access/ security badge issued by a private company. In the past, our company has always picked up the tab to obtain the security badge for employees; however, we often find ourselves in a situation of having paid $200 for a new employee to get their security badge, and then the employee turns around and quits/ abandons their position. We want to know if we can implement a policy in which new employees will need to pay for their own security badge?
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
3/7/2018
Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 103,582
Experience: Years of experience in running a medium sized law firm.
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Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. There is no specific course of action is proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege formed within this conversation. (You may also be offered a phone call, but those don’t come from me and are offered by the website and you are under no obligation to accept.)

What state is this in, please?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
California

Thank you. Under federal and CA laws, employers can deduct certain expenses from an employee's paycheck as long as it does result in the amount received being less than the minimum wage. This includes keys and badges, for example. However, an employer cannot penalize an employee with a deduction from wage earned for quitting early.

So this would not be proper. What one may wish to do is to deduct the $200 automatically, and then perhaps give a "bonus" of... say... $250 once the employer passes a certain period mark with the company.

Makes sense?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Okay. So, we could withhold the badge cost from the new employee's paycheck and then, if they work with us for three or six months, we offer a bonus of $250? Would another option be to tell new hires they can choose to purchase their own badge, and if they do so, they will be paid more per hour than they would be if they choose not to (say we pay them $16/ hr if they get the badge v/s $15/ hr if they don't). And then if they choose not to purchase the badge, they will remain at the lower rate and will not be able to work on military base projects (which will also potentially lower their hours).

Okay. So, we could withhold the badge cost from the new employee's paycheck and then, if they work with us for three or six months, we offer a bonus of $250?

Yes. I say $250 because making it the exact amount of the badge can show that one is trying to defeat the spirit of the law by the letter of the law.

Would another option be to tell new hires they can choose to purchase their own badge, and if they do so, they will be paid more per hour than they would be if they choose not to (say we pay them $16/ hr if they get the badge v/s $15/ hr if they don't). And then if they choose not to purchase the badge, they will remain at the lower rate and will not be able to work on military base projects (which will also potentially lower their hours).

While this is legal, in a long shot, a creative employee can try a claim for discrimination, claiming that minority employees who have LESS MONEY TO AFFORD the badge are categorically paid lower as a result. So... I wouldn't do that.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Got it. So, let new hires know that an initial security badge fee of $200 will be withheld from their first paycheck but if they reach X mark with us, they receive a bonus of $250. Two follow up questions on this: 1) what happens if the employee does not meet the "x mark" with us by either quitting or abandoning their position, and 2) the badges are required to be renewed annually, could we apply a similar policy for the renewals (renewal fee will be withheld but the employee receives x perk for remaining with us when they reach x benchmark)?

So, let new hires know that an initial security badge fee of $200 will be withheld from their first paycheck but if they reach X mark with us, they receive a bonus of $250.

Sounds like a plan.

1) what happens if the employee does not meet the "x mark" with us by either quitting or abandoning their position,

They don't get the bonus. But the money for the badge has already been withdrawn.

2) the badges are required to be renewed annually, could we apply a similar policy for the renewals (renewal fee will be withheld but the employee receives x perk for remaining with us when they reach x benchmark)?

Yes. So say $250 every year as a bonus... lump sum.

Kind Reminder: Please, use SEND button to keep chatting, or please rate positively and click SEND to submit your rating once satisfied. You may always ask follow ups at no charge before or after rating. "I STRIVE FOR FIVE!"

Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 103,582
Experience: Years of experience in running a medium sized law firm.
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