A client asked if garnishment would apply to his employee benefits.

Most judgment debtors are not eligible for the head-of-household exemption from continuing garnishment on salary and wages as provided by Florida Statutes. The client wanted to know if certain types of compensation received by his employer included medical insurance, company cars, and other benefits. In consideration of his continued employment, compensation was received. He was concerned that a wage garnishment could intercept employee benefits. He asked if such employee compensation falls within the scope of salary and wages subject to continuing garnishment writs pursuant to Florida Statute.

Florida courts stated that the continuing garnishment statute’s definition of “salary and wages” must be strictly interpreted. In one instance, wages were defined as labor payments based on the amount of work done or time worked. A salary is a contract on the payment of services. Usually, this compensation is paid at regular intervals. The courts have considered sales commissions in the definition of wages to be subject to continuing garnishment or exemption for the head of household. I’m not familiar with any cases involving employee benefits received in consideration of employment.

Because of the strict construction of these statutes, I believe that employee benefits that are not paid at regular intervals or not given in consideration of time worked or production, would not fall within the scope for compensation subject to garnishment even though they were paid to an employee for his labor. Because the continuing writ applies only to wages and salary, it is unlikely that these benefits will be subject to a continual garnishment.

This post was written by Trey Wright, a lawyer with extensive experience as a Florida chapter 13 lawyer! Trey is one of the founding partners of Bruner Wright, P.A. Attorneys at Law, specializing in bankruptcy law, estate planning, and business litigation.

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