Can we withhold ex-employees’ wages if they don’t return their uniforms?
Can we withhold wages until staff return their company-issued uniforms? We issue all of our staff with uniforms at no upfront cost. Every employee signs a document outlining the items they have, and also receives an ‘exit’ document that clearly sets out the requirement to return their uniform in time for their final pay to be prepared.
You cannot withhold entitlements such as notice pay or unused annual leave pay because these are statutory entitlements.
The contractual entitlement to any unpaid salary can be withheld until the uniform is returned, so long as it is not held for longer than 1 month from the time of your previous payment (this is because the FW Act requires you to pay at least monthly).
Ideally you should not withhold any money, but you should write to the ex-employee saying you will issue proceedings for the cost of the uniforms. Generally, a letter to that effect has the uniforms back quite quickly.