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If an employee voluntarily terminates from the company within the introductory period, is it compliant for us to deduct the cost of pre-employment physicals and background checks if they agree and sign permission??

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Question:

Our company states in our policy that any new employee enters into an introductory period of 90 days upon hire. My question is: If an employee voluntarily terminates from the company within the introductory period, is it compliant for us to deduct the cost of pre-employment physicals and background checks if they agree and sign permission?

 

Answer:

Thanks for the question. In order to respond, I am going to assume that this employee in question is paid hourly – and not an exempt salaried employee.  As a general rule, if the exempt employee performs any work during the workweek, he or she must be paid the full salary amount. An employer may not make deductions from an exempt employee’s pay for absences caused by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business.

 

Next, you are going to need to carefully review your state law.  Most states have pretty specific laws on when/if an employer may make a deduction from an employee’s paycheck.

 

For example, the State of Louisiana appears to have recently enacted a law that is directly on point.

Per Louisiana Revised States §23:897A) “it is unlawful for any public or private employer to require any employee or applicant for employment to pay or to, in any manner, pass on to the applicant or to withhold from an employee’s pay the cost of fingerprinting, a medical examination, or a drug test, or the cost of furnishing any records available to the employer or required by the employer as a condition of employment.” In addition to furnishing records, this statute explicitly mentions that fingerprint based criminal background check costs cannot be passed on to an applicant. This statue does not specify whether the restrictions strictly limit state-wide searches, therefore, it is likely that these requirements apply to any search conducted by an employer.

 

However, the statute also contains some exemptions, one of which provides that an employer may be reimbursed from an employee, for the costs of such employee’s or applicant’s preemployment medical examination or drug test, if (1) the employee is compensated at a rate equivalent to not less than one dollar above the existing federal minimum wage and is not a part-time or seasonal employee, and (2) if the employee terminates the employment relationship within 90 days of their start date.  (There are more details, so make sure to check that section out: https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=84006.

 

Make sure to work with a good local attorney if you have more questions

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