New Employer Information Effective September 1, 2006
Please review the attached documents for important new employer information:
- Fresno County Employer Outreach Letter
- State DCSS Employer Outreach Letter
- Fresno County Employer Workshop Presentation (dated August 2006)
- Questions about Wage Withholding
- Questions about Health Insurance
- Other Questions
- Contacts For Employers
New Legislation That Affects Wage Withholding
"Effective January 1, 2002, new state law imposes additional penalties on employers who fail to comply with court ordered child support wage assignments. Assembly Bill 1426, Chapter 371, Statutes of 2001, authorizes local child support agencies and/or support obligees to obtain a court order requiring employers to make child support payments through electronic funds transfer, if the employer has willfully failed to comply with a wage assignment order or has failed to comply with a particular wage assignment order on three separate occasions within a 12 month period. Employers who are found in contempt by the court may also face a civil penalty of up to 50% of the support amount not forwarded to the child support obligee, including any interest incurred as a result of the employer's failure to forward child support payments." (In CSS Letter 02-05 The State Department of Child Support Services stated their intention to publish the above paragraph in the Employment Development Department employer newsletter.)
New Employee Registry
As an employer, you must report all newly-hired employees to the Employment Development Department within 20 days of their start-of-work date.
Income Withholding and Medical Support
The Department of Child Support Services is mandated by State and Federal regulations to obtain an order for income withholding and medical support. Additionally, the Department of Child Support Services must proceed with various enforcement actions when a court order is obtained.
Services of the Department of Child Support Services
The Department of Child Support Services provides services to either parent or the caretaker/guardian of a child who needs help to establish parentage and orders for support or medical insurance, modify a support obligation, or collect child and/or medical support. All children have a legal right to be supported by both their parents in a manner consistent with each of the parents’ capabilities under California Family Code Section 3900. Department of Child Support Services recognizes that the lack of adequate child support orders, medical support orders, and regular monthly payments are problems of major significance that harm our children.
Children don’t know the first thing about the legalities of collecting child support, but they are often the first to suffer when there is not enough money to buy food, clothing or pay the rent.
We want each child referred to the Department of Child Support Services to receive the support to which he or she is entitled.
The Department of Child Support Services is committed to providing excellent customer service to all parents with cases in our office. We are also committed to promptly provide employers with information regarding their responsibilities and answers to their questions. The Employer Handbook should serve as a preliminary resource and guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support require me to do?
Provide the named employee with a copy of the Order/Notice and the blank Request for Hearing form within 10 days of receipt. FC 5234
Begin to withhold money from the employee’s net disposable earnings (but no more than 50% of the net disposable) no later than 10 days after receipt. FC 5233. This usually means you begin deductions at the next pay period after receipt. Send money to The State Disbursement Unit within 7 working days. Do not wait until the end of the month to send in the support to DCSS. 42 USC 666. Provide the case number, the employee’s name, and the date(s) money was withheld, in order for the DCSS to properly post the payment.
If the employee has more than one Order/Notice, divide the support assignments equitably. FC 5238.
Note that no employer may use an Order/Notice as grounds for refusing to hire a person or for taking disciplinary action against an employee. A civil penalty could be imposed up to $500. FC 5290.
Other forms you will receive:
- A cover letter with instructions for how to implement wage withholding.
- Declaration of Service by Mail,
- Request for Hearing Regarding Wage and Earnings Assignment and information sheet.
- A letter for employers to inform DCSS should the employee leave employment. Notify DCSS no later than the date of the next payment and provide the employee’s last known address, and, if known, the name and address of the new employer. FC 5282.
Where do I send the support I withhold?
For all Order/Notices sent to you by California County Department of Child Support Services agencies, send payments to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) at:
State Disbursement Unit
P.O. Box 989067
West Sacramento, CA 95798
Other County and State DCSS’s have different addresses to send the money. If you receive an Order/Notice from a child support agency in another state, please send the payments directly to the other State so that your employee’s payments can be properly posted and an accurate payment history can be kept for the benefit of your employee.
What if the name and social security number do not match my employee?
Please call DCSS first to check whether there is a typo or error in the number or name that can be easily fixed. If your employee’s ID has been stolen and s/he is not the right person, we can usually match your employee to a photograph of the person we are trying to find. The best way to resolve mistaken identity cases is in the DCSS office. The employee also can file a motion in court to quash the wage assignment using the Request for Hearing form.
I have several Employees with Order/Notices. May I combine all of their child support in one check?
YES. You may combine support withholdings for all counties into one consolidated check. You must include an itemized accounting providing name, social security number (or other identifying number), the amount attributable to each employee for each DCSS account number, and the withholding dates.The single payment can be made payable to SDU.All payments must also be sent directly to the SDU. FC 5236 ; FC 5282
The Order/Notice doesn’t have a judge’s signature. Do I still have to comply with it? Is it Based on a Court Order?
Yes. The Order/Notice is a required form (since January 1, 2000) to be used in all DCSS cases. FC 5208. This includes any Order/Notice sent from another state. FC 5230.1. The signature of a judicial officer is not required when the Order/Notice is sent by DCSS. FC 5246(b). The ongoing child support order is taken from the most recent court order. An arrears payment on an Order/Notice may be based on a court order, but DCSS also has the authority to administratively set an arrears payment. FC 5246(d).
May I withhold a fee for processing and withholding the child support payments?
YES. You may deduct $1.00 from the Employee’s earnings for each payment you make. FC 5235(d). However, the deductions plus the fee may not exceed 50%. Therefore, if the Notice/Order exceeds 50% of net disposable earnings, the $1.00 must be taken from the child support.
Is the Wage Assignment I have still valid?
Yes, it still carries the same force and effect of the Order/Notice. FC 5202
What do I do if the employee does not have sufficient earnings to satisfy the Order/Notice?
Priority shall be given towards the current child support obligation (then health care), then current spousal support (if any) and then to the liquidation of child and then spousal support arrears.
Where there are multiple orders for the same employee, you must first add up the total ongoing support obligations . If 50% of the employee’s net disposable earnings will not pay in full all of the assignments for support, you must prorate it first among all of the current support assignments in the same proportion that each assignment bears to the total current support owed.
You must apply any remainder to the assignments for arrearage support in the same proportion that each assignment bears to the total arrearage owed. FC 5238.
Some of my employees only work part-time. What do I do if 50% of their net disposable income is less than the withholding amount for the pay period?
You can still only withhold up to 50% of your employee’s net disposable income each month.
Our company’s pay periods are biweekly (there are 26 pay periods per year). How do I compute how much I should deduct?
The Order/Notice includes the amount to withhold if your pay periods are weekly, biweekly (every two weeks), semi-monthly (twice a month) or monthly.
Keep in mind that the child support order specifies a monthly payment and DCSS prefers that it is collected on the first of each month. You are not bound by the computed amounts on the Order/Notice, only the overall figure and the 50% rules. Your employee may voluntarily agree to have child support deducted from the first paycheck of each month despite the 50% rule. This might be preferable with bi-weekly payments because if you use the pre-calculated per-paycheck deductions, in some months your employees may seem behind in support and in other months, they go into futures. This can cause problems for employees.
What do I do if an employee has other nonsupport income attachments?
Except when an IRS tax lien was served first, or a Chapter 13 Trustee has served a wage withholding order, Federal and State law require child support withholding to take priority over ALL other income attachments. You must withhold the required amount as long as it does not exceed 50%of the Employee’s net disposable earnings.
An Order/Notice for support has priority as against any attachment, execution, or other assignment. CCP 706.031.
What should I do if the Employee tells me not to enforce the Order/Notice because it is incorrect?
Payments must continue until further order of the court or notification by the DCSS. You, the employer, will be held liable for any amount you fail to withhold and can be cited for contempt of court. FC 5235(a); FC 5241.
Your employee should be referred to DCSS with any questions or problems. Employees may also seek private legal counsel and in California may contact their county Family Law Facilitator for no cost legal information and access to the courts (Fresno County Facilitator 559-497-6500). Your employee may file a request a court hearing using the form provided. FC 5246(e).
You as the employer will not be subject to any civil liability for any amount withheld and paid to the DCSS pursuant to an Order/Notice. FC 5247.
What if our employee disagrees with the amount of arrears shown on the wage assignment?
Your employee needs to write, call or come in to DCSS Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, any time between 8:30 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. and we will go over our records to make sure all payments are counted. These are new office hours starting August 6, 2007. We are no longer accepting walk-in's on Wednesdays.
Sometimes DCSS becomes involved in enforcement long after the payments were originally ordered and we may not always have accurate information from other parents or other agencies when we open our case. Your employee may request copies of your pay records showing all the wage withholdings in order to prove that child support was paid in the past.
If DCSS cannot agree with your employee, the employee may wish to file a motion in court to determine the correct amount of arrears. The Family Law Facilitator can provide no cost legal information and help preparing and filing forms needed to get a court date.
What if I receive a new Order/Notice signed by a Judge for the same children as on an Order/Notice from DCSS?
You or your employee should contact DCSS. DCSS should be enforcing child support on the most recent court order. We will need to find out about the new order and whether it is a valid order. Please continue to enforce our Order/Notice until you have heard back from us.
What if the employee quits work or is laid off after I begin withholding child support?
If the employee quits working for you, please complete and mail in the letter provided for you no later than the date of the next payment. If it is a temporary layoff, please write that information on the letter. If it is a short seasonal or weather related layoff, you need not send the letter. DCSS may call you to inquire about a slow down in payments or partial payments.
Keep in mind that if the employee returns to your employment, the Order/Notice is still binding upon you and should be honored. FC 5231. There is no time limit in the law after which the Order/Notice would become invalid, however, as a general rule, you need not keep it for more than three (3) years.
Is it OK to work with other employers (for example with employment agencies and contractors) when I hire employees from other employers on a temporary basis and I know there is a wage assignment?
Yes, we greatly appreciate and encourage you to work with your employees and their other employers to help your employees comply with their support obligations. DCSS will be glad to fax or mail another copy of the Order/Notice to any and all employers.
What if I fire my employee after I begin withholding child support?
You have the same duty to report termination that you have if the Employee quits. Note: An Employer who fires or disciplines or refuses to hire an employee based upon income withholding for support faces legal penalties. FC 5290.
I have been deducting child support from an employee’s wages on an Order/Notice from the DCSS. Now I have received a support levy from FTB for 50% of the employee’s wages. What do I do?
If the Order/Notice from DCSS was received first, you should continue to send support to DCSS. You should send the FTB any money remaining up to 50% of net. You should also inform the FTB that you have a prior Order/Notice from the DCSS. You may inform DCSS and we may also contact FTB to release their 50% levy.
What if the support levy from FTB was received before the Order/Notice from the County DCSS?
If you receive the 50% levy from the FTB first, you must comply with that order until you receive a release from the FTB. Notify DCSS immediately that you are unable to comply with the Order/Notice because of the FTB levy. DCSS will contact FTB. Begin enforcing the Order/Notice when you receive notice that the FTB levy is lifted.
What if I receive phone calls about the Order/Notice from the other parent?
You may let DCSS know about any problems you experience with a non-employee parent. DCSS will work with the other parent to avoid disruption of the workplace.
What earnings can I use as a source for child support?
Employers can use the following earnings. FC 5206:
- Wages, salary, bonuses, vacation pay, retirement pay, regular overtime, and commissions.
- Payments due for services of independent contractors, interest, dividends, rents, royalties, residuals, patent rights, or mineral or other natural resource rights.
- Payments or credits due or becoming due as a result of written or oral contracts for services or sales whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, or otherwise.
- Payments due for workers’ compensation temporary disability benefits.
- Payments due as a result of disability from benefits.
- Any other payments or credits due or becoming due, regardless of source.
What are net disposable earnings?
Those earnings remaining after mandatory taxes and deductions including mandatory retirement or union dues. Therefore, if your employee has voluntary deductions for 401K plans or other benefits, these deductions cannot be used to calculate disposable earnings. Health insurance premiums are not considered mandatory and are not deducted in determining disposable earnings. FC 4059.
EXAMPLES FOR COMPUTING MULTIPLE CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS AND APPLYING THE 50% RULE
Example 1: You receive two Order/Notices from two different counties (or States). They both have the same children listed, but one is for current support and the other is just for arrears. You should make deductions to send to both counties. If the total deductions exceed 50% of disposable income, you should cover the current support first.
Example 2: You receive an Order/Notice from four different counties. They all have current support for different children which totals $700. Each has an arrears payment as follows: #1 = $150; #2 = $100; #3 + $75; and #4 = $75. The 50% of disposable income is $800. Pay the current support first which leave you $100. Prorate the arrears for each order like this: #1: Divide $150 by $400 x $100 = $37.50; #2: Divide $100 by $400 x $100 = $25; #3 and #4: Divide $75 by $400 x $100 = $18.75 each.
Example 3: You have an Order/Notice from one county for $400 current support and $100 on arrears. You have been complying with it for over 1 year. Now you receive another Order/Notice from another State for another child for $300 current support and $100 on arrears. 50% of the net disposable income is $650. You should pay the current support for both orders to the extent possible. In this case you will prorate the ongoing support orders based on the amount of the order like this: #1: Divide $400 by $700 x $650 = $371.43; #2: Divide $300 by $700 x $650 = $278.57.
What is my responsibility as an Employer in regards to health insurance?
The Application & Order for Health Insurance ("HICA"), becomes effective within 20 days, and must be given to your employee within 10 days after it was served on you. FC 3764.
You must begin to maintain health insurance coverage of the employee’s dependents named on the order, if health insurance coverage is available, within 30 days unless you receive notice of a motion to quash the HICA. FC 3766. The cost of health insurance shall be in addition to the child support amount ordered. FC 3753.
The total amount that may be withheld from earnings for all obligations, including health insurance assignments, is limited by the 50% rule. FC 3671(c).
What are my employee’s options to stop the HICA? What if the cost is too high?
Your employee may go to court to quash a HICA on certain grounds, one of which is that the amount to be withheld for premiums is unreasonable. FC 3765. The court might find that the HICA would cause extraordinary hardship to the employee. FC 3762. Your employee can be referred to the Fresno Family Law Facilitator (800) 474-4469 for no cost help in filing the necessary paperwork to go to court.
What if we don’t have health insurance coverage available to our employees?
If health insurance is not available to the employee, complete and sign the Declaration of No Health Insurance Coverage on the reverse of the NMSN, for National Medical Support Notice, and mail the form within 20 days to DCSS. FC 3766(c). If you have information that your employee has a health plan through a Union, please let us know so that DCSS can forward the NMSM.
If the children are not covered, what plan, and/or physician should I choose?
Health insurance coverage under a HICA includes vision care and dental care coverage whether the vision care or dental care coverage is part of existing health insurance coverage or is issued as a separate policy or plan. FC 3750.
You may enroll the children under the same health benefit plan in which your employee is enrolled. If the employee is offered more than one health plan, the plan chosen by the employee must provide coverage for dependents.
If your plan calls for a parent to select a primary care physician, try to work with the custodial parent. If you do not have a response from parent(s), then you may choose the primary care physician (most likely you will choose a pediatrician). The parent(s) may then change the physician later if they choose to do so.
There is an additional cost to our employee for dental coverage. Are we required to provide dental coverage as part of the insurance requirement?
Many plans require everybody in the family to have the same coverage. You should call your carrier and ask if you can put the child on all available coverages. In general, keep coverages consistent and accommodate the plan requirements.
What if our employee has voluntarily elected not to maintain any insurance?
If your employee is not enrolled in a plan and there is a choice of several plans, you may enroll the children in any plan that will reasonably provide benefits or coverage where they live, unless the court has ordered coverage by a specific plan. FC 3766(c).
If coverage is available, but the insurance company will not provide coverage for the child, should I call DCSS?
If the insurance company will not cover the child alone, please contact the DCSS and, if possible, give us the cost of the insurance.
Can I wait for open enrollment to commence coverage?
No. You must commence coverage at the earliest possible time and, if applicable, consistent with the group plan enrollment rules. FC 3766(a). Do not delay enrollment until the plan’s open enrollment period if it would violate time requirements. FC 3751.5(b)1.
Must I wait for our new employee to become eligible for health insurance before I can enroll the child?
If you receive a HICA and your employee is not yet eligible for insurance, you may enroll the child if your organization and your health insurance company allows it. Note that, if your organization offers insurance ONLY to employees, not their spouses or families, then you would not be obligated to enroll the child.
What if our employee already has existing health insurance for the children?
The existing health coverage shall be replaced only if the children are not provided reasonable benefits under the existing coverage where they reside. FC 3766(b).
What should I do if there is a lapse in coverage?
In the event that there is any lapse in coverage (as with some seasonal employment), it is your responsibility to contact the DCSS when the coverage stops and then to contact the DCSS when coverage resumes. FC 3771(e). You may photocopy the "lapse of coverage" letter and send it to DCSS each time.
I received a Medical Insurance Form with the NMSN, for National Medical Support Notice. Am I required to complete it?
YES. If you cover the children with health insurance you should complete the Medical Insurance Form and mail it to the address at the top of the form. FC 3767.
Do I pay the premiums directly to the insurance provider?
YES. Not to DCSS.
What are my duties to the non-employee parent. Where do I send the medical cards for the dependents?
You must provide evidence of coverage and any information necessary for the child to obtain benefits through the coverage to both parents or the person having custody of the child and to the DCSS when requested. Upon request by the parents or person having custody of the child, provide all forms and other documentation necessary for the purpose of submitting claims to the insurance carrier. FC 3767
The letters you receive from DCSS will provide you with the address of the custodial parent. If you do not find an address on the letters, you should send them to the DCSS and we will make sure they are forwarded. Do not release the custodial parent’s address or phone number to the non-custodial parent or to anyone except the insurance provider.
What if the payment of the health insurance premium combined with the amount of current child support causes the employee’s net disposable earnings to be less than 50%?
In computing 50% of the disposable earnings, the first priority is the current support, then the cost of providing health insurance for the child, then the support arrears.
EXAMPLES FOR COMPUTING HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS AND APPLYING THE 50% RULE
Example 1: 50% of your employee’s net disposable income equals $800. There is an order for current child support of $500. There is an order for a child support arrears payment of $200. The health insurance premium monthly equals $200. You would reduce the payment on arrears to $100 to keep the total deduction within the 50% maximum.
Example 2: 50 % of your employee’s net disposable income equals $800. Child support is $600 each month. The health insurance premium equals $300. In this case, you would contact DCSS and we will contact the other parent if she is not aided. DCSS would then advise you whether the other parent has decided to opt for health insurance coverage in lieu of the full amount of child support. In most cases, you will be requested to complete the Declaration of No Health insurance Coverage and return it to DCSS. Keep in mind that if the cost of providing health insurance changes, you need to begin the enrollment process.
Example 3: Your employee’s net income fluctuates from month to month. Some months child support plus health insurance exceed 50% of the disposable earnings. In this case, contact DCSS for a decision and we will advise you whether to pay it part of the time or complete the Declaration of No Health Insurance Coverage and return it to DCSS.
Regarding New Hire Reporting, If I lay off and then rehire seasonal employees, do I need to report every time they return to work for a new season?
Yes. If the employee returning to work requires a new W-4 form, you should report the individual as a New Hire. If, however, the returning employee has not been formally terminated or removed from payroll records, there is no need to report that person as a New Hire.
What are the New Hire Reporting requirements for Employment Agencies?
If your agency is paying wages to the individual, then you must submit a New Hire Report. The individual needs to be reported only once except when there is a break in services such that a new W-4 form is required. If your agency simply refers individuals for employment and does not pay salaries, New Hire Reports are not necessary. However, the employer who actually hires and pays the employee, whether part or full-time, is required to report the New Hire Information.
How is Child Support Calculated?
State law requires use of guidelines based on many factors including both parent’s gross monthly income and the amount of time each spends with the supported child(ren). The total amount of health insurance paid is another important factor. FC 4055.
At what age is a Child considered an Adult?
The duty of support continues as to an unmarried child who has attained the age of 18 years, is a full-time high school student, and who is not self-supporting, until the time the child completes the 12th grade or attains the age of 19 years, whichever occurs first. FC 3901. Please notify DCSS if you believe the child is emancipated. Continue to honor the Order/Notice until you receive notice from DCSS to stop. Centralized Collection of Child Support.
Can I send the wage assignment payments by Electronic Funds Transfer?
Yes, payments can be made electronically. To find outhow please contact the SDU, 1-866-901-3212 PO Box 989067, West Sacramento, CA95798-9067At this time, DCSS is unable to accept payments of this kind.
Employer Inquiry Letters, what are they for?
These letters ask for wages by month and for the past twelve months. These records of wages are important to DCSS because the data we receive from EDD is not up-to-date. The letters help us keep track of an employee’s movement between jobs his/her earning ability. The information is helpful in proving income for setting child support and proving whether an employee is trying to evade child support obligations.
The letters also help us to find out the cost of health insurance for both the employee and the child. This helps us to decide whether serving a health insurance assignment would put the employee above the 50% rule.
How long does it take for DCSS to process payments I send?
When you send DCSS a check, we must distribute it within two days of the date we receive it.
Who Do I Contact?
I have a question about payments - Call the SDU
I have a question about my employee’s wage assignment - Call the Local Agency
Where do I send payments? - The SDU
Where do I send correspondence, such as health insurance information or a termination notice? - The Local Agency.
I have questions about Electronic Funds Transfer? - The SDU
SDU Payment Address
State Disbursement Unit
P.O. Box 989067
West Sacramento, CA 95798
Fresno County DCSS Correspondence
Fresno County DCSS
P.O. Box 12946
Fresno, CA 93779-2946
Fresno County DCSS Phone
1 (866) 901-3212
All payments are to be sent to the State Disbursement Unit effective September 1, 2006 or Answers about Reporting New Employees Call the New Employee Registry Hotline at: (916) 657-0529
Fresno County Family Law Facilitator: (800) 474-4469
Thank you for helping to collect the child support that Fresno’s children need and deserve!