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Attorneys

Changes to California's Wage Garnishment Law

September 26, 2012

On September 23, 2012 Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1775 which makes changes to California’s Wage Garnishment Law.

Existing law requires a levy of execution upon the earnings of a judgment debtor to be made by service of an earnings withholding order upon the debtor’s employer. Existing law limits the amount of earnings of a judgment debtor that may be subject to an earnings withholding order to the amount specified by federal law, unless an exception applies. Federal law prohibits the amount of earnings that may be subject to garnishment from exceeding 25% of an individual’s weekly disposable earnings or the amount by which the individual’s disposable earnings for the week exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage in effect at the time the earnings are payable.

AB 1775 defines “disposable earnings” as that portion of an individual’s earnings that remains after deducting all amounts required to be withheld by law. The bill prohibits the amount subject to levy under an earnings withholding order from exceeding the lesser of 25% of the individual’s weekly disposable earnings or the amount by which the individual’s disposable earnings for the week exceed 40 times the state minimum hourly wage in effect at the time the earnings are payable, unless an exception applies.

AB 1775 amends section 706.050 of the Code of Civil Procedure to read as follows:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the maximum amount of disposable earnings of an individual judgment debtor for any workweek that is subject to levy under an earnings withholding order shall not exceed the lesser of the following:

(1) Twenty-five percent of the individual’s disposable earnings for that week.

(2) The amount by which the individual’s disposable earnings for that week exceed 40 times the state minimum hourly wage in effect at the time the earnings are payable.

(b) For any pay period other than weekly, the following multipliers shall be used to determine the maximum amount of disposable earnings subject to levy under an earnings withholding order that is proportional in effect to the calculation described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), except as specified in paragraph (1):

(1) For a daily pay period, the amounts shall be identical to the amounts described in subdivision (a).

(2) For a biweekly pay period, multiply the state hourly minimum wage by 80 work hours.

(3) For a semimonthly pay period, multiply the state hourly minimum wage by 86 2/3 work hours.

(4) For a monthly pay period, multiply the state hourly minimum wage by 173 1/3 work hours.

The bill becomes operative on July 1, 2013. On or before July 1, 2013, the Judicial Council will revise the instructions contained in certain documents provided to employers in order to specify the method of computation described above.