Do I have to pay for tools used and required for everyday work?

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Do I have to pay for tools used and required for everyday work?

I have been employed with a company since the summer of 2013. I am an electrician and certain tools are required to do my job. There is a tool account we are allowed to use to purchase tools needed for everyday work strippers l, needle nose plyers, screwdrivers, etc.. at certain electrical supply chains. My boss has never deducted anything from my paycheck for tools from 2013-2016. I quit and my boss just sent me an Invoice for all the tools I have purchased. There was no written or verbal contract between the employer and I to pay for the tools. Am I required to pay for these tools and can he deduct it from my wages?

Asked on January 17, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Utah

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Your employer *could* have required you to pay for tools all along--i.e. had you pay for them as they were ordered. That would be a legitimate term or condition of employment, and if you had not been willing to pay, you could have quit and sought other employment.
However, he cannot make you pay for the tools after the fact unless there was an agreement in place that you would. Of course, you can't take the tools with you, unless you were to buy them from him: if they were paid for by employer money, they belong to the employer, and taking them without paying the employer for them (assuming he is willing to let you pay them and keep them) is theft and you could be sued for that and/or charges could be pressed.
Assuming that you are not taking tools belonging to the employer, he cannot, as stated, charge you now unless there had been an agreement that you'd pay for them. And an employer also may not withhold or deduct money from employee paychecks (including the final paycheck) without employment agreement or consent to the deduction, even if it were the case that the employee owed the employer money. If the employer withholds money from you for tools (especially if you did not take tools bought by the employer, with its money), you could sue for the withheld pay.


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