format_list_bulleted Topic Overview


Garnishments withhold a specified sum from an employee’s wages to satisfy a debt or fulfill a court order. Garnishment orders are handled by Payroll. Information is not shared with departments, and garnishment deductions do not appear on any distributed reports.

Depending on the agency initiating the garnishment, other terms are sometimes used to refer to withholding an employee’s wages, such as:

  • Levy: Federal government
  • Earnings Withholding Order: State of California
  • Wage Assignment: Sheriff’s departments, child support agencies, district attorneys and family support divisions

Upon receipt of a garnishment order, Payroll notifies employees before beginning to garnish their wages. Payroll sends copies of all required paperwork to employees, and alerts them about when the garnishment will begin.

Stanford employees should never sign or accept garnishment orders from outside processors. If approached, employees should direct processors to the Stanford Redwood City Office and call 650-725-5711.

  • After the required waiting period (as defined in the garnishment order) is completed, Payroll deducts a portion of the employee’s salary earned from future paychecks until the terms of the garnishment order have been satisfied (i.e., the debt has been paid) or the garnishment is withdrawn.
  • The terms of the garnishment (i.e., the amount withheld each pay period) is defined by the taxing agency or plaintiff named in the order. Only the issuer of the garnishment has legal authority to modify payment terms or withdraw the garnishment order.
  • Payroll also deducts an additional administrative fee of $1.00 per garnishment per pay period.

An employee who receives a garnishment order from Payroll should do the following:

  1. Carefully read all garnishment documentation upon receipt.
  2. As needed, contact the appropriate agency or an attorney to request alternative arrangements.
  3. Promptly respond to federal and state tax garnishments by:
    • Completing the Statement of Exemptions Form (Parts 4 and 5), included in the garnishment documentation received from Payroll. This statement confirms the number of dependents for the employees, which determines the exempt amount from garnishment of each paycheck.
      If Payroll does not receive the Statement of Exemptions Form, employees receive the default exemption specified by the IRS, which is "single -- with one exemption.” This exemption results in the maximum amount of garnishment to be taken from each paycheck. Contact the IRS to pursue an alternative payment plan.
  4. Obtain a written release from the agency when the terms of the garnishment order are satisfied (i.e., the debt is paid in full). The agency then contacts Stanford and informs them the terms of the garnishment were satisfied, but it may not happen in a timely manner.
  5. Send the written release to Payroll. This ensures timely discontinuation of the deductions from employees’ paychecks. Payroll ceases deductions with the first paycheck issued after receipt of the written release.
  6. Keep all copies of a garnishment for at least seven years.

In most cases, inquiries from law enforcement (including Stanford University Department of Public Safety) regarding current Stanford employees should be directed to the Office of General Counsel (OGC) for response. As a general rule, employee information (beyond that which is available on StanfordWho cannot be disclosed to law enforcement, except with the consent of the employee, in response to a subpoena or after consultation with the OGC.

Last Updated: Jan 14, 2022