Unfortunately for some, wage garnishments stemming from bad debts, child support payments, and defaulted student loans have increased since the recession, which means more employees are having money involuntarily taken from their paychecks at work. Wage garnishments are common, but not every company knows how to handle them correctly.

How an employee is notified about wage garnishments is critical in maintaining a positive relationship with your payroll department and retaining that employee. It can be embarrassing and upsetting for an employee to have to deal with this kind of action, because anything financial can create a strong emotional reaction. But the company must handle this carefully and within the guidelines of the law.

In order to help your organization manage things, we have compiled a handful of tips for legally communicating wage garnishments to employees.

Issue a Letter

The first thing you must do is issue a letter to the employee once you have been contacting by the government or another type of debt collector. Even if the person no longer works for your company, they should still be contacted to be alerted of the garnishment. If the person is no longer one of your employees, let the debt collector know so the debt is not transferred to your organization. The letter should tell the employee who called for the garnishment, how much will be taken from each paycheck and for how long.

Notify HR or Payroll

At the same time you notify the employee of the wage garnishment, you should also inform HR and/or payroll. Some employees might ignore the letter or forget that it is in their inbox, which could lead to issues for the company if HR or payroll is not notified. Once payroll is notified, they can begin to garnish the wages and send them to the appropriate creditor, even if the employee does not approve or wants to fight it.

Inform Employee They are Still Employed

It is a law that employers cannot fire an employee who has his or her wages garnished for a single debt. But, if an employee has wages garnished for a second or subsequent debt, there is no law protecting the employee from losing his or her job. If this is the first wage garnishment for the employee, let him or her know that they are still employed at your organization. Maintain a positive relationship with the employee and let him or her know their job is secure.

Inform of Reimbursement

States permit companies to seek reimbursement from their employees for extra time spent on garnishing wages. There are limits in each state and companies must inform their employees about seeking reimbursement.

The only thing an employer is required to do when it receives a notice of wage garnishment is garnish the wages from the employee’s paycheck. Going the extra mile and notifying the employee of the garnishment is something that should be done out of respect for the employee.

By following the above steps, you can reduce some of the upset that may occur when an employee is faced with wage garnishment. Remember to be compassionate and respectful of the employee at all times, and protect their information.