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AGLO 1976 No. 26 - April 05, 1976
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

DISTRICTS ‑- SCHOOLS ‑- EMPLOYEES ‑- DIRECT DEPOSIT PAYROLL PROGRAM

RCW 28A.58.730 does not permit a school district to require its employees to participate in a direct deposit payroll program established thereunder.

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                                                                    April 5, 1976

Honorable Gary Grant
State Senator, 11th District
25823 132nd S.E.
Kent, Washington 98031                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1976 No. 26

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Does RCW 28A.58.730 permit a school district to require its employees to participate in a direct deposit payroll program established pursuant to that statute?

            We answer the foregoing question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 28A.58.730, which codifies the provisions of § 5, chapter 111, Laws of 1973, reads as follows:

            "Any school district authorized to draw and issue their own warrants may deposit the cumulative total of the net earnings of any group of employees in one or more banks within the state such group or groups may designate, to be credited to the individuals composing such groups, by a single warrant to each bank so designated or by other commercially acceptable methods:  Provided, That any such collective authorization shall be made in writing by a minimum of twenty-five employees or ten percent of the employees, whichever is less."

            In posing the above question regarding this statute you have stated your own belief ". . . that RCW 28A.58.730 is authority for a voluntary program, not a compulsory one."  We fully agree.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Assuming that a group composed of at least 25 school district employees, or ten percent of the employees of the district involved, whichever is less, execute a written authorization to that effect, any school district authorized to draw and issue its own warrants may ". . . deposit the cumulative total of the net earnings of . . ." the members of that group in one or more banks within the state as designated by the group, to be credited to the individuals composing the group in question, by a single warrant to each bank so designated or by other commercially acceptable methods.  Conversely, if less than the requisite number or percentage of employees signs such an authorization, the school district involved may not implement such a direct payroll deposit plan even on behalf of those lesser number of employees who have signed.  However, we find not the slightest hint of legislative authorization in RCW 28A.58.730, or in any other statute relating to the employment of school district personnel, to allow a given school district, as a condition of employment, to require those employees not voluntarily participating in such a plan to do so nonetheless.

            In essence, RCW 28A.58.730 grants to each school district employee a right to decide, for himself, whether or not to join a program for the direct deposit of his monthly or other periodic pay check.  But unless a given number, or percentage, of the employees of a particular district decides, voluntarily, to join such a program the district by which they are employed will be without authority to establish and implement the program.  In other words, under the statutory scheme involved, the authority of a school district to establish and implement a direct payroll deposit program is dependent, entirely, upon the voluntary affirmative action of a designated number or percentage of its employees in executing a "collective authorization" to the district to proceed.  And secondly, it is equally clear, under the statute, that even after such an authorization has been obtained by a school district it may only be exercised on behalf of those employees who, by signing the authorization, have made themselves members of the group to which the statute refers.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

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