Earning Arrestments and FAQs

What are Earning Arrestments?

In Scotland, Earnings Arrestments, (also known as wage arrestments), are a form of Diligence, which is a legal term for procedures used to recover debts.

What Earning Arrestments do, is allow your creditors, the people you owe money, to recover that money from you by forcing your employer to deduct it from your wages, usually on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Your Employer has no choice but to comply with the order, if it is served on him by a Sheriff Officer; but he can only deduct certain amounts from your wages and cannot leave you without any money.

Normally, an Earnings Arrestment continues until such time the debt is paid off, which would include paying off any interest and legal costs your creditor has incurred in trying to recover the debt from you.

It sometimes can be possible to get an Earnings Arrestment stopped before the debt is repaid in full. To find out more about this see below.

How do Earning Arrestments work?

Before a Sheriff Officer can execute an Earnings Arrestment, however, they must first ensure the creditor has met the necessary legal requirements enabling them to do so. This means they must first have obtained a court order or its equivalent, or have a document of debt that provides them with a warrant to recover their debt using an Earnings Arrestment (this is known as Summary Diligence).

A court order is an order granted by the Sheriff in the Sheriff Court, although it can also be granted by the Court of Session. The legal equivalent of a court order, a Summary Warrant, is also granted by the Sheriff Court for certain types of Government debts, such as council tax arrears, owed to local authorities; or income tax, owed to HMRC.

A document of debt is more complex, but certain creditors like landlords and credit unions can register debts for what is known as preservation and execution in the Books of Council and Session. This allows them to legally recover debts using a sheriff officer, without going to court. This process is known as Summary Diligence. However, for them to do this you need to give them permission when you enter into the original agreement and which the debt arose from. This is not an option open to credit card companies and banks.

Prior to instructing a Sheriff Officer to execute an Earnings Arrestment, a creditor first must instruct them to serve what is known as a Charge for Payment. This is a legal demand for payment that is served by a Sheriff Officer. It gives you 14 days to pay your debt in full. If you fail to pay the debt within the 14 days, the lender is then in a position where he can instruct the Sheriff Officer to arrest your wages.

Practical Considerations of an Earnings Arrestment

There are many practical considerations that a lender must take into consideration before they execute an Earnings Arrestment. The first of these is, he must know where you work. If he does not know where you work, Sheriff Officers will obviously struggle to serve the schedule on your employer.

Even if they do know where you work, another practical consideration is whether the Arrestment will be successful, in that you may not earn enough for any deductions to be made from your wages. 

Finally, a creditor incurs legal costs in executing an Earnings Arrestment, which they may lose if you later choose to use an option like a Protected Trust Deed or Sequestration

Also, the Earnings Arrestment may have the effect of making you seek advice and, even if you choose not to use an insolvency solution, you may apply for a Debt Payment Programme under the Debt Arrangement Scheme or a Time to Pay Order, both of which if successful would result in the earning arrestment being lifted. 

For these reasons, most creditors will only take the risk of executing an Earnings Arrestment if they feel all other options have been explored and exhausted.

Can you have more than one Earning Arrestment?

More than one wage arrestment is possible at the same time. This is known as a conjoined arrestment and is administered by by the local sheriff clerk, rather than the employer.

It does not mean you have to pay more.  Instead what happens is the amount deducted  is divided up between those that are owed the money.

It also means the first creditor who arrested the wages will see the amount they get being reduced.  It also means those who execute the second wage arrestment wont get what they would have if they had been the only creditor arresting the wages. For this reason, it can be to advantageous to explain to other creditors you already have an arrestment in place.  This may put them off from taking furher action and encourage them to accept an informal offer from you instead.

However, if you believe you are about to get a second wage arrestment,  you should seek  advice. A conjoined wage arrestment will stop you applying for the Debt Arrangement Scheme, unless another creditor tries to lawful enforce their debts.  This can place you at a disadvantage, as in the Debt Arrangement Scheme  all debts can be included, with interest and charges frozen, which does not happen in a conjoined earning arrestment.

Can Earning Arrestments be taken from Sick Pay?

Can a wage arrestment be taken off your sick pay? 

Yes, it can.  This is because sick pay, even Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is treated as income and a wage arrestment can be taken from your sick pay.

However, if all your receive is Statutory Sick Pay, as the current amount payable is only £92.05 per week, this means nothing can be taken as the first £113.68 is protected.

However, If you are in receipt of contractual sick pay, which is an increased amount, payable over and above SSP, you may have to pay something.

To see how much, view the earning arrestment tables.


  1. Tracy


    Can you tell me what 1st scottish EA means?

    ..and how do i find out where and who to my deductiond are going to?

    My monthly pay has been getting deducted with an EA since March.

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi Tracy

      Yes it means Scottish Earning Arrestment.

      The reason why it specifies the type is there are different types of devices that can be used to arrest wages. See here.

      The best way is to ask your payroll as they will send the money to a Sheriff Officer firm. You can then call them and ask them who is arresting your wages and how much is left to pay.

      Be careful though, as often when it’s for Council Tax, they will wait for one years debt to be paid, then apply another years after that. This can go on indefinetly unless you start paying the current Council Tax.

      There is also ways you can sometimes stop wages arrestments. See here.

  2. vicky


    Could you please tell me the maximum amount that can be taken off a 4 weekly pay of £1036?

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi Vicky
      I am presuming the £1036 is the net amount, after tax and deductions.
      If that is the case,divide it to get the weekly amount. £1,036 divided by 4 is £259.
      For a normal wage arrestment, the weekly protected amount is £122.28. That leaves £136.72 (£259-£122.28).
      Of that only 19% can be took (£136.73 x 19%). That is £25.97. Multiply that by 4 to get the 4 weekly amount. The most they can take is £104. (*see here for wage arrestment tables).
      However, remember that is its a wage arrestment. If they freeze your bank account, they can take everything above £529.90.
      Find out how you can stop wage arrestments here.
      If you have time I would appreciate if you can give me a Trust Pilot Review. Thanks

  3. Daisy

    My son has had over £400 deducted from his wages for council tax arrears for 2018 for an address he has never lived at.He has lived with us over 30 years and on the electoral roll since he was 18 untill he moved to his own place last year.Emails to and fro from the debt collecting agency arent getting any where,they want more information regarding the account.He has provided proof from employer that since being with the company the addresses he has been registered to are not the address they have claimed the money for unpaid council tax for.What can we do next to get his money back and have his name cleared.

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi Daisy

      First can I apologise in not getting back to you sooner, I have just been very busy.

      The issue is not with the employer, they just execute the instructions of the Sheriff Officers.

      The problem is with the Local Authority, as clearly they have held your Son liable for a property he has never lived at.

      I would submit a written complaint to the Local Authority and provide the proof he has of where he has lived for the period they were claiming he was living somewhere else.

      Provide a reasonable amount of evidence, but remember the burden is on them to show they have the correct person, not the other way around.

      There are then two processes open to him

      First, if his complaint is not satisfactorily resolved within 20 days, he can then make a complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Service (SPSO)

      However, he can also appeal the decision to his local Indepedent Valuation Appeals Committee, if he is not happy with the way his complaint is resolved.

      The SPSO are not an appeal body, but they can look at how the Council have conducted themselves and make recommendations (usually accepted).

      The Indepependent Valuation Appeal Committee can look at issues relating to Council Tax Liability and rule against the Council.

      Make it clear in the letter of complaint he is complaining to the Council about the decision to hold him liable for Council Tax for a property he has never lived at and also the fact that they still have not reversed the decision, even once they were provided with reasonable evidence.

      Make it clear this is obviously a case of mistaken identity and the Council should have taken appropriate steps once they were alerted to the problem and provided with evidence.

      Request a full refund of all funds taken and it is up to him whether he believes a further payment of compensation would be appropriate for the upset and worry this has caused him and list any hardship he may have suffered.

  4. Susan

    Hi I have a Arrestment on my wages I think it may be for council tax how can I stop this happening and maybe come up with payment plan for council tax? Is this possible?

    Many thanks

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi Susan

      You can contact the Lender and ask if they will lift the arrestment, but they have to agree to this and will want you to offer usually as much as they are arresting each week/month.

      The best place to start here is with the Sheriff Officers. Do not be surprised if they are reluctant to lift the Arrestment.

      Alternatively, you can look at formal solutions for lifting the Arrestment, but you will need to seek advice first and see if the options are suitable for you first.

      I have a page on How to Stop Wage Arrestments that will give you more information on these options.

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