Guide

Make child maintenance deductions from an employee's pay

How Deduction from Earnings Orders work

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has designed Deduction from Earnings Orders (DEOs) to work in a similar way to Attachment of Earnings Orders (AEOs), which are used to collect outstanding debts and fines. As an employer you may already be familiar with these.

If CMS sends you a DEO you must take the amount of child maintenance stated on the order directly from your employee's net earnings or their pension and pay it at the intervals given in the order. You should send the money to CMS as soon as possible after the deduction has been made and never later than the 19th of the month following the month in which the deduction was taken.

Read more on what CMS counts as earnings.

The DEO that you receive will contain all the information you need to make deductions, including:

  • the normal deduction rate - this is the amount of child maintenance CMS takes from a paying parent's net earnings in each pay period
  • the protected earnings rate or protected earnings proportion - this is the amount the paying parent needs to keep to pay for their own living costs
  • the date CMS expects you to start making deductions
  • how often you should make payments

It's then up to you to ensure that you take the right amount from your employee's earnings each week or each month - in line with the order you were sent - and pay it to CMS.

When you make deductions, you must make sure that:

  • your employee has earned enough money in the pay period for you to take the normal deduction rate
  • you leave your employee with the amount of their protected earnings rate or protected earnings proportion

If your employee does not earn enough in the pay period, there are rules on what you must do. See protected earnings rate and protected earnings proportion.

Why you might get more than one DEO for an employee

Sometimes a paying parent has more than one case and is paying maintenance for children by different receiving parents. If they have multiple cases calculated under the 2003 scheme rules (as applicable for calculations made on or after 3 March 2003) there will only ever be one DEO, which will show the National Insurance number. You will make one payment to CMS and it will split the payment between the relevant children once received.

For multiple cases under the 1993 scheme rules (as applicable to calculations made before 3 March 2003) you may receive more than one DEO, which will show the 10-digit reference number. You will need to make a payment for each order you hold for each employee. If your payroll is already set up with payment schedules these may need to be changed to ensure the correct deductions are made.

When to start making deductions from earnings

CMS sometimes takes time between making a calculation and advising of a collection schedule. You should always wait until advised by CMS about the amount to take from your employee's wages. This will ensure you deduct the correct amount.

If you find a mistake in the amount you have paid CMS, you should contact them.

Cancellation of a DEO

If CMS decide to end a DEO, they will write to you and your employee. The letter will tell you CMS have cancelled the order and to stop taking deductions from the date of the letter. You should not stop taking deductions unless CMS have written to you.

How to contact CMS - 1993 and 2003 schemes

For help or more information:

  • call CMS employer helpline on 0800 171 2039
  • if you have speech or hearing difficulties, a textphone service is available on 0800 587 1381
  • email CMS at nicallbacks.lob2@cms.gsi.gov.uk - this is not a secure email address so do not enter personal information

The CMS employer helpline is open Monday to Friday, from 08:00 to 17:00.

nidirect guidance on contacting 08 and 03 telephone numbers.