Guidance

Direct Earnings Attachment: an employers' guide

Information for employers making Direct Earnings Attachment deductions.

Documents

Direct Earnings Attachment: a guide for employers

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Direct Earnings Attachment: more detailed guide

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Direct Earnings Attachment: employer declaration form

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Details

As an employer, you may be asked to deduct money an employee owes the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) from their pay. This is called a Direct Earnings Attachment.

The employers’ guide explains what you need to do if you’re asked to implement a Direct Earnings Attachment. It tells you:

  • how to operate and make payments for a Direct Earnings Attachment
  • what your legal responsibilities are

We have also published more detailed guidance for employers and payroll software developers that includes worked examples on how a DWP Direct Earnings Attachment should be operated.

These guides are intended to help you understand the main points about Direct Earnings Attachments. They are not a full description or statement of the law.

More about Direct Earnings Attachments on GOV.UK

Find out more in our guide Make debt deductions from an employee’s pay.

Published 4 April 2013
Last updated 10 January 2018 + show all updates
  1. Replaced Direct Earnings Attachment: a detailed guide with revised version. Added all percentages in 'Deduction rate to apply' column in table on pages 23 and 24.
  2. Published updated versions of both guides with new contact numbers and with an email address field added to the payments schedule.
  3. Clarified the guidance about the importance of providing National Insurance numbers with payments. However, the provision of National Insurance numbers is not a "legal requirement" so we've removed that statement from the employer guide page 5 and detailed guide page 4 (4.1). Please continue to provide National Insurance numbers as explained elsewhere in the guidance so we can allocate payments to the correct accounts.
  4. Published revised guides advising that Debt Management may telephone employers with a request to stop a Direct Earnings Attachment deduction.
  5. Replaced both guides amending references to ‘benefit overpayments’ and to reflect that DEAs can be used to recover more than one type of DWP debt.
  6. Replaced both guides with added information about sending DEA schedules by email and administration costs for compliance with National Minimum Wage.
  7. Replaced 'Direct Earnings Attachments: a guide for employers'. Revised version has new opening times starting from 6 February 2017.
  8. Replaced both guides with revised versions. DWP Debt Management bank details updated in both guides, micro business exemption information removed from 'Direct Earnings Attachment: a guide for employers'.
  9. Replaced both guides with revised versions. DWP Debt Management bank details clarified.
  10. Replaced both guides with revised versions. Changes to DWP Debt Management bank details made throughout both guides.
  11. Replaced 'Direct Earnings Attachments: a guide for employers' with a revised version incorporating new guidance on how an employer can email payment schedules to DWP Debt Management. Also published 'Direct Earnings Attachments: employer declaration form'.
  12. Added revised - a guide for employers - page 9 - paragraph 3 - reference to 2.5.17a and c, changed to 7.12 a and b of the more detailed guide.
  13. Replaced both guides with revised versions. Numerous changes made throughout the guides.
  14. Replaced both guides with revised versions. Numerous changes made throughout the guides.
  15. Published updates to both Direct Earnings Attachment guides.
  16. Replaced both guides with revised versions. Numerous changes made throughout the guides.
  17. Published revised version of the employers' guides
  18. Employers guide updated for: the ending of the Direct Earnings Attachment.pilot; announcement of automated payments; clarification of guidance on exemptions, protected earnings and DWP responsibilities; removal of calculation examples to the more detailed guide for software developers; updated questions and answers. More detail guidance for software developers published.
  19. Document updated April 2013
  20. First published.