The Garnishee order not as simple as it looks.
We are all familiar with the Garnishee order, that legal document that instructs us, the employer ,to deduct from one of our employee’s wages an amount of money every month and pay that over to another company (normally a law Firm) . I have always believed it was a simple procedure until I started reading and investigating exactly what was required of me.
1) The company can be held liable for the outstanding debt if the garnishee was correctly served and the company failed to deduct the money.
2) We need to pay the money over to the company demanding payment by the last day of each month or face penalties and interest (this will be added to the employees account)
3) The company can withhold an administration fee (5%) but this is the added to the employee’s debt (is this ethical)
4) I believe we have to communicate with the employee and tell them about the garnishee but also let them know what their rights are. It is our duty as employers to assist our employees in any way possible.
5) Lastly you do not need the employees consent to deduct this money from his salary.
So what must I check when I receive a garnishee order
1) Has the employee consented to the garnishee order.
This consent must be in writing. This consent is very often given when the contract to lend the money or buy the item on H.P is signed. But it is worth checking
2) Does the employee work for me. If the employee works for you then we need to communicate to the employee that he has a garnishee order against his salary. If the employee does not work for you or no longer works for you then you must notify the clerk of the court that issued the garnishee order as well as the company demanding payment that this person is not in your employment.
3) Is this garnishee legal and binding
a. The law stipulates that a garnishee order must be obtained in courts within the jurisdiction of the alleged debtor’s home or workplace.
b. Is this the right person, right identity number and address?
4) Is this garnishee affordable
The law makes provision for the garnishee to be affordable and it the magistrate is meant to ensure that the employee can afford to pay the amount before he issues the garnishee order. In practice this does not happen very often and therefore it is our duty to assist our employees where we can. If the employee feels that the garnishee is unaffordable he can appeal the garnishee amount.