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In the parlance of companies , a shortcoming is an established deficit in a till . The term is also applied to commercial inventory differences of all kinds, for example in a warehouse. In a broader sense, not only the shortfall, but also an excess amount is a defect because it does not occur in the normal course of business.


The word deficiency comes from the Latin mancus , which means as much as frail, weak, incomplete and flawed and in the figurative sense crippled or cripple (substantiated). The term mancus also stands for a gold coin with a low proportion of precious metals, or an Arabic dinar (8th to 13th centuries)

The word deficiency has become naturalized from Italian in the merchant language . It originally means "defective", "incomplete". The expression “something has a serious shortcoming” indicates a serious disadvantage , a considerable gap, a considerable deficit.

Establishing the shortcoming

  • Step 1 : At the end of a certain period (daily in the case of cash on hand), the cashier or inventory manager in charge of the cashier or inventory manager determines the cash on hand by counting, measuring or weighing (see also inventory ).
  • Step 2 : The sales or changes in inventory are determined from the existing accounting system and added to or subtracted from the previous day's inventory .
  • Step 3 : Both results are compared and should agree. In the case of a shortfall, one speaks commonly of a "deficit" / "cash deficit", also a minus difference , with an excess amount of "cash surplus", also a plus difference .

The shortcoming is determined by:

  • the inventory manager himself or
  • an inspector who is assigned the task of regularly monitoring the inventory (compliance with the so-called four-eyes principle ) or
  • an auditor for an announced or unannounced revision of the inventory.


In the case of significant amounts or quantities, the search for a possible error begins in steps 1 to 3. The inventory is counted a second time, and the sales update is checked for errors. Entries in manually managed cash books could be incorrect, for example. Rotation errors in machine inputs can be found with a Primano inspection.

If these actions are unsuccessful, the unexplained difference will be corrected by a booking. Depending on the situation, either extraordinary expenses or extraordinary income arise, which are reflected in the profit and loss account .

If an employee frequently reports unexplained shortfalls, he exposes himself to the suspicion of being the cause of the differences. In repeated cases with larger amounts, this can lead to an ordinary termination of the employment contract. If someone is even caught taking away money without notice, termination without notice is usually inevitable if the delinquent does not prefer to agree to a termination of the employment contract.

Shortage of funds

Employees working in the checkout area can, after consultation (shortcoming agreement; shortcoming agreement; liability clause ) with the employer, receive a lump-sum compensation payment for being liable for shortfalls in the checkout .

In the deficiency liability of the employee for differences in the cash register is a liability extension even with slight negligence , as in normal (= average) negligence is not a complete release from liability even without this shortcoming agreement and the employee to the employer to a certain amount liable to pay damages is . The shortage money, also referred to as shortage remuneration or compensation for wrong payments, is intended to compensate for any shortfall (negative cash difference; debit at the cash register; counting money) from the employee's private money. By paying the shortage money to the employee, the latter assumes no-fault liability for differences in the cash register.

The shortfall money is intended to create an incentive for the employee to take responsibility for proper cash management and thus represents a security mechanism for the employer against dishonest employees. The shortfall agreement is intended to prevent the employee from getting away with shortfalls without some form of compensation or sanctioning. On the other hand, the payment of deficit money protects the employee from liability with his regular salary if, for example, shortfalls occur due to cashier errors. Often the exact reasons for cash differences cannot be clarified and from the point of view of the employee he should then be liable for differences for which he is not responsible.

In addition, the payment of deficit money is intended to reduce the effort required to compensate for deficit amounts. Such a deficiency regulation can also be useful for a good working atmosphere, as there is no longer any reason for a general suspicion of the employee by the employer in the event of shortfalls and the consequences of a cash difference are clearly agreed in advance. The shortage money also protects the employee from suspicion of dishonesty.

With the shortage money, the employee has a positive psychological incentive to avoid cash differences and to keep the shortage money for his private consumption. This is better than a negative psychological incentive when the employee has to make up shortfalls with his private money. An alternative to the psychological incentive to lack money are high salaries and bonus payments, which improve the working atmosphere, increase the employee's reliability and willingness to work, and can motivate them to manage their cash flow carefully. The employer is released from the burden of proof by the clear regulation on the shortage of money in the event of a cash difference.

The shortfall agreement is only effective on the condition that the employee's liability is limited to the shortfall money. That means that, on an annual average, the employee is only liable for shortfalls that correspond to the amount of the annual shortfall payment. Example: If the employee receives a monthly deficit of 50 euros, he is only liable for a deficit of 600 euros within one year. A shortfall agreement is only effective if the employee receives a risk premium in the form of the shortfall money in addition to his salary.

Another condition is that the employee has sole access to the cash register; he must have exclusive access to the cash register.

Without the payment of deficit money, agreements in the employment contract, according to which the cashier is generally responsible for shortfalls in the cash register, are ineffective. Without a shortfall agreement with shortage money, the employer cannot simply offset a cash difference of the employee against his wages. The amount of the shortfall money must be specified in the employment contract and the employee's liability amount must not exceed the shortfall money (calculated over the year; in the annual scope of your shortage money). The employee must therefore be adequately compensated for his liability by paying a deficit.

The payment of deficit money up to a monthly amount of 16 euros is not subject to income tax in Germany , so it is tax-free income. If the employee is charged with wrong payments, he can deduct these as income-related expenses .

Cashiers, for example, received short-term money, especially at public tills. In the 1990s, no more deficit funds were paid to cashiers at public tills. Since then, the employer has compensated for any shortfalls. In return, the employer also collected any positive deficit amounts.

Shortage money is paid particularly in the low-wage sector in retail (especially supermarkets, petrol stations, kiosks), since there cash differences represent a not inconsiderable loss. But also in other areas where it comes to cashing and accounting, deficit money is paid.

The deficiency regulation can only extend to shortfalls in the cash register, but it cannot be used as an alternative to the contractual penalty - for example in the event of loss of work equipment or losses due to incorrect operation or errors in devices and systems that cannot be clarified.

If there is a shortfall, the employer has to prove that the employee has at least moderate negligence in the event of a shortfall in order to get compensation according to § 280 BGB . The giving of incorrect amounts by the employee - as a possible cause of deficit - does not count as mean negligence. With the exception of exceptional cases, the employer usually finds himself in need of evidence in court and still has to bear the cash minus himself. Because without proven moderate negligence, the employee only owes the service (for example: keeping the cash register) and not the success (e.g. no cash difference) from his employment contract.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. R 19 para. 1 No. 4 LStR 2011


  • Arnold Reuter: Working rules for the management of cash registers , 7th edition. Stuttgart 2003.
  • Cash book professional , CD-Rom, NWB-Verlag Herne 2007. ISBN 3-482-58471-0
  • Walter Uhlig, Helmut Schön: Cash and bookkeeping of the clubs . Wiesbaden 1988. ISBN 3-8078-7032-6

Web links

Wiktionary: Deficiency  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations