Pay Day surprises!

Month-end comes with so many emotions attached to it for all workers. The joy of knowing that you will get that much-anticipated notification from your bank that your salary has been paid is sometimes short-lived after you receive your pay-slip reflecting the dreaded deductions, and then for some, it’s even more painful to receive a pay-slip showing an EMOLUMENT ATTACHMENT ORDER (EAO) deduction or commonly known as a ‘garnishee order’.

Although we’d love to be intrinsically motivated with passion to wake up every morning and go to work, knowing we would be adding value to the economy and earning an income, for many, if not all, we are extrinsically motivated. Several questions come to mind.  What happens when you have that burden of an EAO attached to your salary? Pay-day no longer becomes a happy day but rather a day which you dread. Will you then be motivated to work? As an employer, how do you assist workers whose salaries have been attached? Consumers/workers feel that it’s a never-ending debt cycle, to the point that they’d rather just stick their head in the sand and pretend that the debt does not exist, rather than to view their pay-slips.

These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself to ensure that you are rights are being protected:

  • Was the court order granted within the correct jurisdiction, i.e. closest to where you live, carry on business or work?

It is required that the judgment be taken at a Magistrates court that is within the jurisdiction closest to where you live, carry on business or work.

  • Have I informed my creditor of any change in my contact/residential details?

A creditor will make use of the contact details which you have provided upon your application. Should you have changed your address or any contact details, you are required to inform the creditor so that they may be able to reach you and avoid the burden of unnecessary tracing costs.

  • Was I informed by the creditor of their intention to attach my salary? Was there a notice setting out the amount which was to be deducted?

You should receive a notification from the creditor by registered letter informing you that an EAO will be issued.  Previously there was no limit on how much could be deducted from a debtor’s salary. The Courts of Law Amendment Act (2017) provides for a limit, in that the total EAO deductions for the month may not exceed 25% of the debtor’s gross earnings.

  • Do I receive a full statement detailing all costs that have accumulated and balances?

It is advisable that you get regular updates on the progress of your outstanding debt. If no statement has been provided by the creditor, you will need to take it upon yourself to request the statement. Check your statement for any unusual interest and other costs that may have been debited.  If you find that there may be incorrect interest or other charges, approach the creditor to clarify the information.

  • May I request a reduction of the amount being deducted from my salary?

The EAO is an order granted by the court. If you are unable to pay the instalment ordered by the court, you may have to show the court that you do not have sufficient means to support yourself. You may also engage with the creditor to negotiate a reduction in monthly payment or temporary suspension in payment should you be experiencing financial difficulty. It is crucial that you make contact with your creditor.  If this is successful, the creditor must inform your employer.

  • What happens to the EAO if I get retrenched?

Inform the creditor that you have been retrenched as this will show good faith on your part. Keeping silent in hope that the debt will vanish may lead to unnecessary tracing costs for which you will be liable to pay. You may even find that you have credit life insurance which could cover some of your installments if you are retrenched. Ask your creditor or check your loan documentation to see if you have retrenchment cover.

If you had an EAO deduction coming off your salary and have now started work with a new employer, your new employer is required to abide by the EAO, and it is your responsibility to ensure that your creditor is aware of this change.

We celebrate Workers Day to appreciate the hard-working individuals who go out each day to earn their keep, and in turn contribute to the economy. The concept of an EAO is at times difficult to accept and understand, and it is of vital importance that consumers understand their rights and the legal implications of an EAO.

How do I get liberated from the debt?

Knowledge and awareness are the key ingredients to liberation when it comes to understanding your debt, and once you understand what is being charged and what can be charged, you will feel more in control and at ease.

Seek help! The office of the Credit Ombud is there to assist. Should you suspect irregularities with the EAO or charges relating to order, contact your creditor to obtain clarity. Should the matter not be resolved within 20 days of lodging the complaint, contact the Credit Ombud for assistance.

We can assist with complaints against our members relating to over-charging of interest, hand-over amounts, duplicate collections, fraud, and other issues relating to an account.