All attachment orders have certain procedures prescribed in the relevant legislation that employers must follow. Failure to follow them can lead to penalties being imposed. The procedures that must be followed are usually set out in documents accompanying the order from the court, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and so on.

These procedures include, for example:

  • Notifying the order’s originating source of various events (such as the employee leaving the employment)
  • The date by which the employer is required to pay over to the payee (such as the originating court) the amounts deducted from the employee’s earning.

Protected earnings

To work out how much an employee can afford to pay their creditor, the court works out the minimum amount of money you need to live on. This is called the protected earnings rate. The amount owed to your creditor can only be taken out of the money they earn above this amount. If they earn less money one week or month, the amount paid to creditors will be less, as their income can’t fall below what’s been set by the court.

Creditor won’t be able to get an attachment of earnings order if:

  • the amount you owed is less than £50, or
  • the take-home pay is always below the protected earnings rate.

The attachment of earnings order will show both the amount of the weekly or monthly deductions to be made by the employer to the creditor, and the protected earnings rate the court has set.

Further information is set out in ‘Attachment Orders – A guide for employers’, which is issued by H M Court Services and is available on GOV.UK.