Boss can't change terms of loan to employee

Can They Do That?

Your Money

April 03, 2005|By Carrie Mason-Draffen

I borrowed money from my boss for personal reasons and signed a letter allowing him to deduct $150 from my check every two weeks, a rate of $300 a month. Now he has advised me that he intends to double that amount to $600 a month. I cannot afford this, nor did I sign an amended agreement allowing him to take that amount of money from my check. Can he change the terms of our agreement on his own?

Absolutely not. Except for income taxes and court-ordered payments, he must have your written approval to deduct money from your wages. So even a personal loan repayment plan needs your signature.

"Generally, an employer is barred from deducting any money from an employee's wages, absent that employee's expressed written authorization," said employment attorney Joseph J. Ortego, a partner in the New York law firm Nixon Peabody.

That means your boss can't consider the agreement one-sided.

"An employer, like any party to an agreement, cannot unilaterally alter the expressed terms of an agreement or promissory note to, for example, provide for an increase in monthly payments," Ortego said. "Such a change in the payment provision would not be binding."

Even if you hadn't run into this problem, it's not a good idea to view your boss as your personal lending officer. Go to a bank or to relatives. Otherwise, you run the risk of souring your relationship with a key person at work.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. E-mail her at yourmoney@tribune.com.

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