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Human Resources

Garnishments

Date: January 2007

Policy: "Garnishment" of wages refers to a legal procedure requiring an employer to withhold portions of an employee's earnings to satisfy an outstanding debt. Other terms used to refer to such a procedure are "wage attachment", "wage deduction procedure", and "income execution".

Garnishments differ from wage assignments. Garnishments are based on a court order or agency action by a creditor against the employee. Wage assignments stem from the employee's voluntary agreement to transfer wages to the creditor, and are governed by state law.

Bowdoin College is required by law to follow the guidelines stipulated in a garnishment order. 
Different limits are set on different types of garnishment. The most common types of garnishment and wage assignments are: court order for a federal bankruptcy, court order for child support, federal or state tax levy, student loan, creditor garnishment, or employee wage assignment.

Upon receipt of a garnishment notice, Payroll will notify the employee when the garnishment will take effect and any other necessary instructions. Considering the garnishment requirements, Payroll will determine the employee's "disposable wages", that is, gross wages less taxes and other deductions required by law. A payroll deduction will commence and continue until the College receives notification from the court or government agency that the garnishment is discharged. The fact that the College receives a garnishment order (maintained in confidential Payroll files) will not be held against the employee in any way. Contact Payroll directly with any questions about garnishments or wage assignments.