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AGO 1963 No. 64 - October 10, 1963
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- COUNTY ‑- AUDITOR ‑- DEDUCTIONS FROM SALARY OF MARRIED EMPLOYEE NOT AMOUNTING TO ASSIGNMENT ‑- AUTHORIZATION.

When requested by a married county employee to make payroll deductions for the payment of insurance premiums under RCW 41.04.020, or for contributions to the "United Fund" under RCW 41.04.036, or for the purposes set forth in § 3, chapter 164, Laws of 1963 (pledges to the United Good Neighbor or a successor, to a credit union, or monthly dues to a labor union), the county auditor is authorized to make such deduction since RCW 49.48.100 is not applicable.

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                                                                October 10, 1963

Honorable E. Lloyd Meeds
Prosecuting Attorney
Snohomish County
Everett, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 64

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested an opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            When requested by a married county employee to make payroll deductions for the payment of insurance premiums under RCW 41.04.020, or for contributions to the "United Fund" under RCW 41.04.036, or for the purposes set forth in § 3, chapter 164, Laws of 1963 (pledges to the United Good Neighbor or a successor, to a credit union, or monthly dues to a labor union), is the payroll officer required by virtue of RCW 49.48.100 to refuse to make the payroll deduction unless the request is accompanied by the written consent of the employee's wife?

            We answer your question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 41.04.020, RCW 41.04.036, and § 3, chapter 164, Laws of 1963, provide, respectively, as follows:

            RCW 41.04.020:

            "Any employee or group of employees of the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] state of Washington or any of its political subdivisions, or of any institution supported, in whole or in part, by the state or any of its political subdivisions, may authorize the deduction from his or their salaries or wages, the amount or amounts of his or their subscription payments or contributions to any person, firm or corporation furnishing or providing medical, surgical and hospital care or either of them, or life insurance or accident and health disability insurance: Provided, That such authorization by said employee or group of employees, shall be first approved by the head of the department, division office or institution of the state or any political subdivision thereof, employing such person or group of persons, and filed with the state auditor; or in the case of political subdivisions of the state of Washington, with the auditor of such political subdivision or the person authorized by law to draw warrants against the funds of said political subdivision."

            RCW 41.04.036:

            "Any official of the state or of any of its political subdivisions authorized to disburse funds in payment of salaries or wages of public officers or employees is authorized, upon written request of the officer or employee, to deduct each month from the salary or wages of the officer or employee the amount of money designated by the officer or employee for payment to the United Fund.

            "The moneys so deducted shall be paid over promptly to the United Fund designated by the officer or employee.  Subject to any regulations prescribed by the state auditor, the official authorized to disburse the funds in payment of salaries or wages may prescribe any procedures necessary to carry out RCW 41.04.035 and 41.04.036."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Section 3, chapter 164, Laws of 1963:

            "Employees of the counties shall have the right to voluntarily authorize the monthly deduction of their pledges to the United Good Neighbor or its successor, monthly payment to a credit unit, and monthly dues to a labor union, from their salaries or wages.  When such written authorization is received by the county auditor, he shall make such monthly deduction."

            We do not believe that the act of a county or other public officer or employee authorizing his county auditor or other payroll officer to make payroll deductions pursuant to, and for purposes provided in these statutes constitutes an "assignment of, or order for, wages to be earned in the future . . ." within the purview of RCW 49.48.100, assuming this statute applies to public employees.

            RCW 49.48.100, provides as follows:

            "No assignment of, or order for, wages to be earned in the future shall be valid, when made by a married man, unless the written consent of his wife to the making of such assignment or order is attached thereto."

            No transfer of any interest in the employee's salary or wages occurs, by virtue of the payroll deduction authorization, until the salary or wages have already been earned.  Then, and only then, does a transfer of any property of the employee occur.  The mere act of authorizing payroll deductions creates no right in any third party enforceable against the employer.  The employee retains dominion over his earnings, and as to any future salary or wages may revoke his authorization at any time.

            Thus, the mere authorization of payroll deductions, as provided for in the above‑cited statutes, does not constitute an "assignment of, or order for, wages to be earned in the future. . . ."  Accord:Sneesby v. Livingston, 182 Wash. 229, 46 P.2d 733 (1935); compare, State v. Price, 168 Ohio St. 499, 156 N.E.2d 316 (1959) withHagerman v. City of Dayton, 147 Ohio St. 313, 71 N.E.2d 246 (1947).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            We trust the foregoing information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Assistant Attorney General

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