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Employers responsibilities when served with a garnishee order

A garnishee order is a court order requiring you to garnish an employee’s wages or salary to repay a debt they owe. 

If you have received a garnishee order for an employee it means they owes someone money under a court judgment.

This page has information about:

    Complying with a garnishee order

    You must comply with a garnishee order and garnish the employees’ wages or salary to repay the debt. 

    To do this, you must make a payment directly to the creditor (listed on the order) within 14 days of the employee receiving their wage or salary. You do not pay the court. 

    You must leave the employee with a minimum amount of money to live on, currently $527.40 per week (as at 1 October 2020). This is called the weekly compensation amount. 

    If the employee is being paid any entitlements or leave loading this can be included in the amount that is garnisheed, as long as the employee is still left with the weekly compensation amount.

    You are allowed to take an administrative fee each time you make a payment under a garnishee order. The current fee is $13 (as at October 2020). Payment of this fee does not reduce the employee's debt.

    You must continue to pay the creditor each time the employee is due to receive their wage or salary until the debt has been repaid. 

    You can make a payment by sending a cheque to the creditor, or you can arrange another method of payment with the creditor, for example internet transfer. 

    Your payment must be accompanied by a written statement that shows:
    • the employees wage or salary after tax and the current weekly compensation amount have been deducted
    • the amount you have retained to cover your expenses  
    • the total amount that has been paid to the judgment creditor. 

    There is no special form for this statement. 

    You do not need to tell your employee, or show them the order, before you garnish their wages, however, you can if you want to. 

    If you do not comply with a garnishee order, the creditor may ask the court to make you responsible for paying the amount not paid. 

    Multiple garnishee orders or notices

    If the employee has multiple garnishee orders against them, you must pay them in the order that you have been served with them. 

    If the employee has multiple notices from government departments, for example the Child Support Agency (CSA) and Centrelink, you must pay the notices in the order in that you receive them.

    If the employee has a child support notice and a garnishee order, you must pay the child support notice first. 

    Unable to comply with a garnishee order

    You may not be able to comply with a garnishee order because:

    • the employee no longer works for the business
    • the employee earns less than the weekly compensation amount
    • you have already taken money for another garnishee order, and there is no money left after the weekly compensation amount has been paid to pay another judgment debt
    • you have not been able to contact the creditor to make payment.

    If you are not able to comply with a garnishee order, you must complete a Garnishee's Statement that [No debt due or accruing/No wage or Salary payable] (Form 72) and explain why you cannot comply with the order. You must serve the completed form on the creditor. If you need help with the form you can contact the Local Court registry where the judgment was made. 

    You should make all reasonable attempts to contact the creditor using the details on the garnishee order. If you are not able to get in touch, you should confirm with the court that the judgment creditor has not taken any further action since you got the order.

    ICON_ALERT.PNGIf you are unable to comply with a garnishee order, you should get legal advice. 

    Stay on the judgment

    A stay on a judgment stops enforcement action by the judgement creditor until the stay is lifted (removed).

    If the court orders a stay on the enforcement of the judgment on which the garnishee order is based, then you do not have to comply with the garnishee order. 

    A stay can be granted by the court for many reasons, for example, if the judgement debtor (employee) has applied to set aside (remove) a default judgment or they have applied to pay off the judgment debt by instalments.

    If you are not sure about what orders the court has made about the employee's case, you can ring the Courts Service Centre on 1300 679 272.  It is a good idea to have the case number handy when speaking to the courts service centre.

    Payment by instalments

    If the court makes an order for the employee to pay the judgment by instalments, then the amount that you have to pay to the creditor under the garnishee order is reduced to the amount of the instalment order. This means that you have to make the instalment order payment from each wage or salary that is to be paid to the employee until the judgment debt is paid.  If an instalment order has been granted by the court, you are no longer entitled to keep an administration fee to cover your expenses in complying with the order.

    If you are not sure about what orders the court has made about the employee's case, you can ring the Courts Service Centre on 1300 679 272. It is a good idea to have the case number handy when speaking to the courts service centre.