Is it legal to require careless employees to pay for items they break?

I manage a restaurant where recently we have had an issue with careless staff and broken glass and dishware. Now, I am not talking about an occasional plate breaking, this is a daily issue. We are losing close to 200 a week in glass and dishware due to negligence. Being that we are a single stand alone restaurant this is a huge issue when looked at from a yearly financial perspective.

Asked on November 14, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, California


Christopher LeClerc / LeClerc & LeClerc LLP

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You cannot make an employee pay for breakage.  You can discipline the employee or terminate their employment for being careless, but you cannot make him or her pay.  California Labor Code section 2802 covers this.  It states that "[a]n employer shall indemnify his or her employees for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties...." 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You cannot unilaterally take it out of employee compensation. But you may make it a policy that if any employee breaks something, they must pay for it or be fired; then it's up to them if they wish to keep their jobs.

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