Are Employer Charge Backs in Massachusetts Legal or Not?

As the owner of a moving and storage company, you know that it is important to stay on top of your drivers and make sure all is running smoothly. However, there may occasionally be a time when a driver is involved in an accident that causes damage to one of your moving trucks. You may end up charging employees back for the damages but on January 25th, 2011, the MA Supreme Court made a decision that may impact the way you handle this issue.

You may look to us to be your movers insurance experts, but we also can help educate you about human resource decisions that impact the way you do business. This blog will discuss charging back an employee’s wages for anything you think they may be responsible for, whether they signed a statement agreeing to the charge back as part of their employment or not. Pay close attention to this scenario:

In this case, the employer is ABC Disposal Service Inc.  ABC’s drivers are occasionally involved in accidents that lead to the damage of ABC’s trucks. In an effort to reduce the number of accidents caused by employees, ABC adopted a policy: Drivers that are involved in an at-fault accident were given two options:

#1: Accept disciplinary accident; or

#2: Incurring a debt to the company for amount of damage and paying that debt as a charge back to their wages.

Ultimately, the ABC safety officer made the determination of fault. After reviewing reports, the officer determined whether the damage caused by the employee was a preventable accident.

When this policy was challenged in court, the court held that a debt could ONLY be established by a court process or other means. During that process the employee must be afforded due process and allowed to participate in the fact finding effort to determine fault.

Are you an employer with policies that are similar to that of ABC’s? Do you charge back your employee’s for lost cell phones, tools, hand dolly’s, carts or other employer provided items? If so, this decision may require changes in YOUR policies moving forward. At Wolpert Insurance, we are here to help! We stay on top of these decisions so you do not have to. Have us provide a free examination of your movers insurance policies today and see what we find!