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Is It Legal to Give an Employee a Pay Cut

by Peggy Emch
Employee pay cut

Reducing an employee’s pay is no minor thing. A pay cut can be anything from illegal, financially troubling, emotionally unsettling, to devastating. Before cutting an employee’s pay, employers should consider the effects. Sometimes the repercussions aren’t worth it.

Timesheets.com has a free pay raise/cut calculator you can use when the time comes.

When a Pay Cut Is Acceptable

In some situations, employees accept the change, like when everyone in the company or department is getting a pay cut for the benefit of the business. In other cases, employees welcome it, like when they want less responsibility. Sometimes, a pay cut is intended to get employees to quit. There may be better ways to go about this, but at least in this case the effects align with the intentions.

When a Pay Cut Really Cuts

Most of the time, employees don’t see a pay cut in the same light as their employers. Thoughts usually circle back to, “This isn’t fair” and, “Is this even legal”.

In a recession or any time a company struggles to survive, a pay is a valid strategy that keeps the business afloat. Loyal employees may be sympathetic and willing to hang on through a hard time– that is of course if upper management is also taking a pay cut. If the reason is to line the pockets of upper management, though, employees won’t take kindly to the company hardship.

Reasons employees don’t appreciate

  • Corrections to what might have been a poor choice in original salary
  • Complaints by other employees about one employee’s rate
  • The realization that the employee is overpaid for the location or job description
  • Cash flow problems, if upper management doesn’t also take a pay cut

Mortgage and other bills

When employees buy homes, lenders base their loans on their income. Employees also buy cars, sign up for classes, school, and all the other things that cost money. Most people budget themselves based on how much money they earn. If you cut their pay, they may face new monetary hardships.

Emotional effect of a pay cut

A pay cut speaks a thousand words and those words usually hurt. Unless your objective is to get an employee to quit, be aware that a pay cut may prompt a job hunt. Even if it’s not true, employees usually see the pay cut as a demotion or take it as a hint that they are not appreciated. In either case, they will leave at the first opportunity. If you really value the employee and want them to stay, you might be better off just swallowing those few extra bucks per week and instead tell the employee that you cannot offer a raise this year. While that’s never fun either, it’s not as hard a blow as a pay cut.

Most of the time it is legal to reduce an employee’s pay but there are some instances in which it isn’t.

  • Surprise – A surprise pay cut is illegal. Employers must pay employees the agreed-upon rate. If employers wish to change that rate, they can do so but first employees must agree to it. If they choose not to agree to it, they can discontinue service with the company. However, employers cannot tell employees that the paycheck they already worked was earned at a lesser rate of pay.
  • Retroactive – Employers also don’t have the right to tell employees that their pay rate is changing and that the rate is retroactive some number of days. The pay rate can only change for any time after informing the employee.
  • Retaliation – If an employee complains about sexual harassment or other inappropriate office behavior, the employer cannot lower her pay rate in retaliation. It is not the right way to deal with this situation and retaliation is against the law.
  • Discrimination – Pay rates cannot lower based on race or gender. For example, if the company is struggling, the employer cannot legally cut the rates of all female employees to improve cash flow.
  • Breach of Contract – When employers have a contract with employees, they have a duty to pay them a certain rate for a certain amount of time. Once this time period is up, the employer can notify the employee of the pay cut and renegotiate the contract.

Additionally, regarding employee classifications, hourly employees must always make at least minimum wage, even after a pay cut. Exempt employees’ rates of pay cannot fluctuate. In other words, you couldn’t ask your exempt employees to take a pay cut during the slow months. If you needed to do this, you would have to switch the employee from salary to hourly.

Also, under current Department of Labor rules, salaried employees must make at least $684 per week. If you reduce an employee’s wages, they may fall under the required threshold and you would have to change them to “hourly” status. Before you reduce their wages, ensure that you think through all the possibilities and calculate accordingly. If you aren’t compliant with the law, you may face penalties.

Need to track your hourly and salaried employees’ time? Try Timesheets.com! It’s an easy way to track time for payroll and billing.

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Suza May 3, 2018 - 12:09 pm

I was injured wile on duty, company increase hour and want to cut my pay, but am not incompetent,nor misconduct,am productive

Itumeleng March 3, 2019 - 11:27 pm

This page is fraud, not in south africa there are steps to be followed before something can be legal here in mzansi, employers can not wake up tomorrow and say he/she wants to implement pay cut to employees, give us sections in labour law, this page is misleading employees not to stand for their rights.

timesheets_blog March 12, 2019 - 5:05 pm

Itemeleng, This post was written in the US, primarily for US customers. Laws in your country may be different.

Nick February 19, 2020 - 2:53 am

Can an Employer change commissions in the middle of the month? We started the month with one pay plan and on February 14 pay plans were changed effective immediately.

Lindsay Sommers February 20, 2020 - 3:37 pm

It looks as though the Department of Labor doesn’t have regulations in regards to the change of commissions; however, usually employers present employees with a contract letting them know about commission changes. I would suggest speaking with the Wage-Hour division for help: 1-866-487-924

Maria Alvarez May 7, 2020 - 11:22 pm

I work for a group of Doctors in one office. I perform cardiac ultrasounds in their office. They approached me today to take a paycut, due to them not getting paid enough by HMOs and that I make too much money. I have been working for them for 13 years. I feel like Im getting put in a hardship that is not related to my work I do for them. No complaints on the work I perform. Is this legal for them to do?

Lindsay Sommers May 13, 2020 - 4:22 pm

I’m sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, an employer can typically cut your pay at any time, especially if you’re an at-will employee. An employer can cut an employee’s pay as long as an employer follows FLSA minimum wage and overtime regulations and salary basis requirements. There’s a section in this article that explains when a pay cut isn’t legal– you should take a look at that. If you find that it doesn’t seem like it’s illegal, your employer is not being unlawful.

Sandy June 19, 2020 - 8:07 am

My Employer cut my pay without informing me about it

Lindsay Sommers June 22, 2020 - 6:01 pm

The answer is usually no. Your employer should warn you about the payout before they cut your pay. I suggest that you speak with your HR representative about this issue.

Ascensao Verdade July 12, 2020 - 6:48 pm

Hello My boss does not increase my salary for 5 years. What rights do I have ?? Can I claim?

Lindsay Sommers July 13, 2020 - 3:17 pm

If you’re an at-will employee, your employer can choose to reduce or increase your pay at any time. I’m not sure what you mean by “claim”; however, I will say that you can always have a conversation with your employer about receiving a raise.

Cindy Elsberry March 24, 2020 - 6:47 am

Our employer in the state of GA cut employees pay and made it retroactive – 20-50% pay cuts for hours already worked. One of my co-workers called the GA Department of Labor and the individual they spoke with told her that it’s legal in GA to make pay cuts a surprise and/or retroactive. Did she speak with an idiot or is that accurate for Ga?

Lindsay Sommers March 25, 2020 - 4:46 pm

That doesn’t sound correct. I would suggest that you make another phone call to the GA DOL to clarify pay cut rules.

Monica De Los Reyes May 3, 2020 - 11:40 am

Because he got the Paycheck Protection Program, now my employer told me that I have to take the $300 a week instead the $600 from The federal government.
Is it legal, can he do that?

Lindsay Sommers May 6, 2020 - 4:43 pm

I have never heard of an employer forcing an employee to take less than what they’re entitled to. As far as I know, if you are eligible for $600.00 a week, you will obtain $600.00 a week. Your state might have other rules, but I think that’s unlikely. Still, it’s a good idea to check with your unemployment office to see if that’s a legitimate request from your employer.

David Darrell Grace July 16, 2019 - 2:17 pm

I work at a company where the security company has changed four times in 10 years now the company AUS wants to cut the pay I have earned to $14 per hour from $24.00 without notification they said they just discovered after 11 months. Is this legal

Lindsay Sommers July 18, 2019 - 12:32 pm

This depends on if you’re an hourly or salaried employee. According to the DOL, The FLSA requires that all covered non-exempt employees receive at least the applicable Federal minimum wage. The act allows employers to lower the employee’s hourly rate, as long as it doesn’t go below minimum wage.

Dave August 8, 2019 - 1:56 pm

My boss told me he would pay me 15.50 and hour if I work m-f but if I miss a day he drops my pay to 14.00 hourly is this legal

Lindsay Sommers August 12, 2019 - 9:51 am

Hi Dave. Based upon research, it looks as though an employer is allowed to adjust an hourly rate as long as he does not violate minimum wage or overtime regulations. You have a unique case, so I would suggest speaking with someone from your local labor board or a legal counsel to see if you have a case.

Gerad December 7, 2019 - 7:43 pm

My boss was just paying me 15.50 an paid me 3 checks month an a haf an calls an said we got someone else’s pay an my pay is going down to 14 a hour basicly he giving the money to the guys that are always late popping pills milking the clock adding time and hours an the boss knows it an I’m there fall guy

Lille summer April 3, 2020 - 8:18 pm

Question I have a contract with my hired salary wages and benefits I have had 3 raises within 2.5 years because of corona virus our salaries have been cut to lower than when I was hired and we have been required to work 18-20 extra hours per week with no compensation . Is this legal in Ga?

Lindsay Sommers April 6, 2020 - 3:55 pm

It may be illegal if your new salary breaches your original contract or if your new salary forces you to go below FLSA salary basis requirements. I would suggest consulting with a legal counsel for further assistance.

Bruce H. March 31, 2019 - 9:53 pm

My employer see you there my wages almost in half without telling me before hand. It was only after I’d completed my work and my paycheck came in that the reduce in pay was evident. Is that legal? If so, what sort of recourse do I have? Would it be retro? Do I need a maritime lawyer?(I’m a mariner)

Lindsay Sommers April 2, 2019 - 12:46 pm

Under FLSA protection, hourly employees at least need to make minimum wage for their hours worked. You may want to make sure that you are at least making the minimum; if not, then you may want to consider speaking with your supervisor about the issue.

Jane Doe December 7, 2019 - 9:04 am

Wouldn’t the employer need to discuss the pay cut prior to doing the pay cut?

Lindsay Sommers December 9, 2019 - 2:26 pm

An employer should let the employee know if there is going to be a change in pay. If it’s unexpected (a surprise to the employee), that’s not legal.

Mary February 2, 2020 - 2:27 pm

I was going through some old paperwork looking at tax returns and such and came across some paperwork from my job and realized I had received a reduction in hourly pay without being notified. This dates back to 2012. Is there a time limit for getting compensated. I didn’t ever look at the stub I guess I just trusted the payroll person. I noticed it today. It was a $3.00 reduction.

timesheets_blog February 5, 2020 - 2:20 pm

The company can pay you whatever they want. There’s no law that says they can’t reduce your pay. It’s up to you to accept that rate or not accept it. If you have a contract spelling out that’s your pay rate then that would be different.

Lacy mead March 22, 2020 - 2:50 am

Can my pay be cut due to the virus and what is going on now in the world? They said our pay cuts are 20% and I live in NC.

Lindsay Sommers March 25, 2020 - 3:53 pm

An employer can give you a cut in pay as long as they notified you prior, the pay cut isn’t discriminatory, your pay isn’t under minimum wage, and if the paycut doesn’t breach any contracts. For more clarity in regards to the legality of this situation, I suggest speaking with your local labor board.

DJ April 1, 2020 - 3:00 pm

My employer said he would pay additional time and a half for respond to on call emergencies durig the day, then 2 weeks later said hes only paying 40 straight tine, after I responded to many on call emergencies, is that illegal ?

Lindsay Sommers April 6, 2020 - 3:05 pm

It sounds as though your employer changed your pay retroactively, which isn’t legal. I would recommend speaking with your HR representative or a legal counsel. You can even speak with the Department of Labor and file a claim as well.

Adriana July 18, 2020 - 2:38 pm

My salary was 60k last year. My employer gave me two options this week. Either to add more hours for the same salary or to become part-time lose my benefits and get paid by the hour a smaller amount. This was told to me in front of the whole office and was extremely humiliating. I feel uncomfortable and I don’t want to work there anymore. if I quit, will I get unemployment? Thank you very much. I’m supposed to answer to their request in two days.

Lindsay Sommers July 21, 2020 - 2:52 pm

Hi Adriana. Most often you won’t qualify for unemployment if you quit your job, unless if you have a sound reason to do so. Unemployment benefits are usually only given to those who’ve lost their jobs without any fault of their own. If you’re an at-will employee, your employer can choose to cut your pay or hours at any time, but if they’re breaching your contract, that may be an issue. I advise that you speak with your HR representative

Anna April 19, 2019 - 6:04 am

My employer cut my wages to minimum wage rate and made it retroactive to apply to hours already worked because i quit. This was done hours before my pay check was scheduled for direct deposit and came as a surprise. I know it is legal to cut wages for hours not yet worked, BUT what about for hours already worked?

Steve Ballman May 3, 2019 - 4:42 am

In Kansas, my pay rate was changed due to an absence policy. So it was a policy set in place ny the company about missing a certain ammount of hours and losing an entire 60 cents per hour.

My pay rate was changed during a period but I was not notfied until I was paid for two weeks of work, at the lower rate.

Was this illegal by them?

Krystal December 5, 2019 - 9:59 pm

So they gave me a pay cut at work starting monday for 2 weeks (10.75 to 8.60) equalling to 2 days worth of work (monday to friday for 8hrs each day) but im working overtime saturday which is over 40 hrs (one week) . Do i make 12.90 or 16.13?

Lindsay Sommers December 6, 2019 - 4:16 pm

Your overtime rate is normally 1.5 times your normal rate of pay. If your rate of pay is $8.60, then your overtime pay rate will be $12.90.

Renee April 25, 2020 - 10:51 am

During this pandemic, how are the laws applied to Sr staff taking larger paycuts, if a female Sr staff member doesnt earn as much as the male Sr staff? Meaning, how are pay cuts applied legally and illegally? Is there such a thing as discriminatory pay cuts? Or pay cuts being applied ‘unfairly’?

Lindsay Sommers April 28, 2020 - 4:20 pm

That’s a great question. Discriminatory paycuts can exist, however, you would have to prove that the pay cut was done in a way that’s considered “discriminatory”. I would suggest that you speak with a legal counsel to gain an understanding in this matter.

A Seratte May 15, 2019 - 8:47 am

My husband’s worked at same job for same pay for nearly 15 yrs and makes a flat hourly wage (no raises) and commission on gross profit of department. Management just made him sign a take it or leave it reduction in that commission basing it on accessories instead of all sales. Pay cut this month for first check under the new commission rate is $1500, which amounts to 12-18K per year!!! We can’t pay our bills on that much of a reduction and he’s over 62, so it seems to us like they’re trying to force him to quit. Also reducing his pay reduces what they would pay for workers comp if he’s laid off and increases their own pay as they get paid off net profit – the less paid to employees the more upper management makes! This is unethical and I’m sure it’s discrimination. But is it legal?

timesheets_blog May 20, 2019 - 4:32 pm

This is absolutely a question for a labor attorney and definitely us, as we cannot provide this kind of advice. a consultation with one may be in order.

Tim Reed June 4, 2019 - 4:34 pm

My company made a new policy that if someone gets too many points,they give them $3 less an hour for sixty days, with no missed or late days or they’ll be terminated. After the 60 day period, the pay goes back to normal. Is that legal??

timesheets_blog June 5, 2019 - 11:42 am

This is a good question for your local labor board. Let us know what they say! I don’t think it’s illegal, but that’s a guess. The company isn’t obligated to pay you any specific amount unless you’re under contract with them. Do you have a contact specifying your hourly rate of pay? I’m not sure new policy would be enough to allow changing a contract – if you had one. But without a contract, the company is probably free to do as it wishes.

JD June 21, 2019 - 5:24 am

I took on a new role last April in 2018. My employer told me to do the job for six months and they would reevaluate what it was worth. After six months they gave me a raise. That was in October 2018. Now, in June 2019, they are telling me they reevaluated what my job is worth and they’re saying I’m overpaid for my role. So they want to reduce my pay by over double what the original raise was for back in Oct 2018. So my new pay is even lower than what I made when I saw initially accepted the job. Nothing has changed in my job description or role except I have a new boss and the company is reducing costs. This doesn’t seem right but I don’t know what I can do because HR is on my bosses side trying to legally justify that this is OK. Any suggestions?

timesheets_blog June 24, 2019 - 4:05 pm

It doesn’t sound like you signed a contract that specifies your pay. In that case, they can lower your salary any time they want. They just can’t do it for time you’ve already worked at the old rate. It has to be AFTER they tell you that the new rate applies. You’re welcome to accept it, or quit, but unfortunately those are probably your only good options. You have to decide if the job is worth it or not.

JD June 21, 2019 - 5:28 am

I also am in a unique job that was covered by 2-3 people in the past. So there’s not really any internal comparison. But HR is saying I’m paid more than my peers in the “same role.” Not a fair comparison at all. I am fine with them taking back the raise, but not reducing it further. What do I do?

Michelle July 20, 2019 - 12:36 pm

Our company has been sold again – twice in three years. I think the new owners will be cutting wages again. I am a salaried department leader – can they cut my wages substantially and cause me financial harm? If they do and I don’t accept, am I eligible for unemployment? I live in Ohio. Thank you!

Lindsay Sommers July 29, 2019 - 12:07 pm

Hi, there. According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family services, you need to meet these certain requirements to be eligible for unemployment benefits.

timesheets_blog July 29, 2019 - 12:09 pm

Since an employer can adjust your pay rate at will unless you’re under some kind of contract, you might not be eligible for unemployment if you voluntarily quit. You’ll need to find the proper legal answer to this question elsewhere. That being said, it’s not usually a good idea to demote or pay employees less since it causes employees to be less than supportive of the company’s goals – to say the least.

MIKE JONES August 28, 2019 - 7:11 am

I recently made the decision to leave my job. My employer, courted me back with talk of what i do for the company and how I couldn’t be replaced. I was also offered an higher rate of pay. I agreed. Over the next few weeks my duties expanded to which I embraced. 2 months later my employer stayed we needed to talk about my rate. I started that I stayed due to it meeting my financial needs even though I could have left for more money. 2 weeks went by with no conversation but it was mentioned again. On Thursday 8/22/19 I was told.my pay was reduced by $3. I chose to resign. We shook hands and agreed Friday 8/23/19 would be my last day. On my way home I recieved a text stating we should make it effective immediately and I need not work Friday.
Friday 8/23/19 [ picked up my paycheck for the week of 8/12-8/16/19 and the amount had already been changed. I haven’t done anything as of yet, not even unemployment. Is this legal or a normal.practice? What are my options or what direction should take this ?

timesheets_blog September 6, 2019 - 3:29 pm

Generally an employer should not reduce your pay retroactively. I would discuss it carefully with your former employer before taking any other action.

Anonymous July 23, 2019 - 7:52 pm

9 months ago, I was promoted and signed a contract with a specific pay rate listed, but no length of time in the position stipulated. My company just got a new COO a few months ago (I’ve been with the company since 2007). I was just informed that my position is being eliminated to make room for a friend of the new COO. My options are to resign with severance, or go back to my old position with a $10,000/yr pay cut from what I am currently making. I am employed in Louisiana, but the main office of the company is located in Texas. The two employees above me (and below the new COO and his incoming friend) have not been demoted or received a pay cut. All parties involved are male, and I am female. Is this legal?

timesheets_blog July 29, 2019 - 12:06 pm

You’ll have to speak with a proper legal authority for the answer to this. Contract law is, well, contract law and a bit beyond the help we can provide. Good question though. You can also try asking the community on our forums. https://www.timesheets.com/forums.

Matt G August 11, 2019 - 3:10 pm

I just recently took a pay cut of almost 40%. No one else in my dept. got a pay cut. I manage a route doing pest control. My manager informed me of my route cut and told me everything will be adjusted so I can continue to make what I was making. After I got my check and saw the 40% decrease in my pay, I reached out to HR asking if it was correct and they said they miss paid me by $30. I feel like I was targeted due to being the only employee to have a pay cut. Any suggestions what I should do?

Lindsay Sommers August 13, 2019 - 10:49 am

Unless you feel as though you were discriminated against based on race or gender, or if the pay cut was a surprise, your employer can make the choice to give you a paycut. If you feel as though you are being treated unfairly, you may want to speak to a legal counsel to see what your options are.

monique August 28, 2019 - 11:55 am

Hi My company is trying to cut my salary and put me on hourly. Can i not accept their offer and have them lay me off?

Lindsay Sommers September 5, 2019 - 10:03 pm

Yes, you can negotiate a severance with your manager/employer. If they agree, they can decide to lay you off.

Tammy September 12, 2019 - 1:19 pm

My employer (Missouri) recently cut my over time rate without notifying anyone that it was changing. I have the email that increased our overtime or “crisis” rate for working extra hours. When I went to accounting to dispute my pre tax pay I was informed that it had changed 2 pay periods prior to the one I noticed it on. I work a lot of overtime/crisis hours and we never get a pay stub that breaks down our hours and rates for those hours so that is how they got it by me the first 2 times.

Lindsay Sommers September 17, 2019 - 11:50 am

Hi there. Upon my research, Missouri’s law states “Employers must pay at least one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay once overtime pay is in effect. Overtime pay begins once an employee works more than 40 hours in a work week rather than more than 8 hours in a work day. State and federal law does not allow employees to voluntarily waive their rights to overtime pay and accept straight time instead. Any employer that asks an employee to do so violates the law and employees should​ file a wage complaint.” That being said, any hours worked over 40 hours in a work week must be 1.5X your normal pay rate.

Cheri D September 17, 2019 - 7:37 pm

My employer told me i am being paid too much compared to others in the office. When i started we had an agreement on a salary and commission %. It’s been 4 years and now he said he won’t pay me a salary and commission but will adjust my salary. There were also discrepancies in previous paid commissions. When i advised the money due me he said since you were overpaid those commissions are a wash now. My questions are: 1. Is he allowed to not pay me the back commissions? 2. Is there a time frame or notice that I am supposed to get before he can change my compensation package? 3. Commissions are paid out 2 months after they are earned. Is he still required to pay me on the monies I have already earned before he puts the new compensation package in place?

Cheri D September 19, 2019 - 3:57 pm

I am also located and work in Illinois

Kimberly October 5, 2019 - 9:33 pm

I just recently left my job that i had been at for over 7 years. My checks have always been direct deposite. I just recieved my a paper stub from my last work week and noticed that my pay was cut about a dollar an hr. I was never told that they were cutting my pay! It was never a conversation or anything!! I looked at a stub from a few months ago and it was also at the lower amount. Can they do this???

Lindsay Sommers October 7, 2019 - 2:10 pm

You are supposed to be notified about a change in pay. Most likely, your employer will have to give you backpay for all of the hours you didn’t receive the extra pay. I would suggest talking to your HR department.

Pedro Ponce October 29, 2019 - 6:59 pm

I work for a company where I get paid salary plus commission. It Is rumuroed thst beginning of next year, january first, they are taking my ability to make commission, and just pay me salary. It would be a greater salary than I have now, but it could cost me roughly $30K less due to my inability to make commission. Most in my position will get a pay increase, but that is because they don’t sell nearly as much as I do. Is this conaider a surprise since they would just be implanting this without asking or running it by those who would be affected, and thus, illegal!?

Lindsay Sommers November 10, 2019 - 9:21 pm

Your employer will have to speak with you about the wage change, although a wage change is perfectly legal. You can call the DOL Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-487-9243 to see if this is something should be of your concern.

Pastapinata November 7, 2019 - 3:12 pm

My boss had a little meeting in the beginning of the year and said that our commission will start at 28%, and will go up to 30 (the max) if you are in time for the week… but if you are late one day then it decreases 2% for that week and you can go down to lowest of 24%. So usually and for years now we’ve been paid 30% max always. Now 3 months later after nobody has spoken a word about this rule, I find out that he has been paying me at a quickly diminishing rate and stood at 24% now for almost 3 months. Is this legal, because in my eyes I believe I should have been notified of my pay decrease. Since then he had very begrudgingly agreed to pay me the difference up to 28%. And he thinks he is like a god because he’s so generous for doing that. Was this legal?

Lindsay Sommers November 10, 2019 - 10:05 pm

Commissions are a bit different than normal wages, however, most state laws will count commissions as an addition to a wage. Employers cannot typically change someone’s wage without their knowledge. Speak with your local labor board as soon as you can, because you may have a limited time to file a complaint and a report.

Erin November 10, 2019 - 4:34 pm

Hi lindsay. I was wondering how much advance written notice they have to give before the pay cut goes into effect (along with a signed pay rate form)? Or could it literally be the day before (or even hours before) the start of the shift? Is it a week? 10 days? Before you are scheduled for that week? (I am in the hospitality industry in NYC.) Thanks!

Lindsay Sommers November 13, 2019 - 12:15 pm

Hi Erin. Your employer must notify you as before any substantial changes to your wages, however, I’m not certain about the specific time frame for NYC employees because the answers seem to be unclear. It might be possible that the new wage takes place immediately after agreement, but unfortunately I’m unsure. To be certain, I would suggest that you speak with your local labor board because they’ll have a clear understanding of NY employees’ rights and regulations.

on time but tired of threats November 12, 2019 - 7:13 pm

there’s a mandatory pre-work meeting and employees have been told to be in attendance by x-time. if employee fails to show on time, wage will be permanently lowered. legally, how can an employer get away with such a threat?

Lindsay Sommers November 13, 2019 - 11:22 am

If you are a salaried employee, your rate should stay the same no matter how many hours you work in the week. This means that your employer can technically require you to go to meetings outside of work hours, however they cannot reduce your pay. When it comes to hourly employees, the FLSA doesn’t preclude an employer from lowering an employee’s hourly rate. As long at the new rate is at least minimum wage, the employer can reduce the wage. Additionally, most employees are hired “at will”, which means that those employees don’t have a formal employee contract and are not covered by a bargaining agreement.At will employees can be terminated, demoted, and have hours reduced or pay lowered by the employer. If you have an agreement with your employer, they will have to notify you about a pay change. If they don’t, it’s a breach of contract. If you are still concerned about your rights, I would suggest speaking with your HR department or your local labor board.

on time but tired of threats November 19, 2019 - 10:03 am

thank you, for the timely response. the meeting came and went……just as did the threat to reduce pay, as two co-workers were either late or not present at all without tardiness/absence notification. this is not the first time such a threat has been made, only louder and longer. i do believe that some contact with the labor board will ensue, as numerous co-workers are just plain tired of low wages, inconsistent environment and overall “blame-the-nearest-non-family-member-employee” attitude of a family business. collectively, we enjoy the work and the people, but there needs to be some compensatory improvement. a one dollar an hour increase in pay after nearly two decades of devoted service doesn’t really cut it. most of us need multiple other jobs just to survive from paycheck to paycheck. yet another family “small” business sticking it to the folks that put them on easy street. go figure.

again, thank you.

Brenda November 15, 2019 - 6:42 am

Good Morning, Lindsay. I have an awesome and dedicated employee at my small business. I can not afford to pay overtime so I have hired two other part-time employees to cover the hours. My awesome girl is designated to make out the schedule and, knowing that I can not pay overtime, still gives herself several hours of overtime each week. For instance, I pay bi-monthly and she voluntarily worked 99 hours this pay period. the job is extremely easy … it’s basically sitting the majority of the time and watching over things. During a 9 hour shift I would guess she would take a free soda or bottle of water to approximately 8-10 guests. She can spend most of her time on the computer or cell phone with personal matters, eat and take smoke breaks at any time she chooses and as often as she wants. She, being awesome, doesn’t abuse the freedom, it’s just that so much of the time there are no guests at all so it leaves her a lot of free time. She loves her job and wants to be here. As stated, she chooses to work the extra hours, rather than give them to another part-time employee. I’m in Illinois and I pay her $9.50 an hour. From what I am reading here, this is not legally ok. Is there anything we can legally do to make it ok?

Lindsay Sommers November 21, 2019 - 3:39 pm

Hi Brenda, I may be a bit confused by your question, so forgive me if I don’t answer properly. What exactly is you question here? Are you asking if you are able to cut her hours? if so, I don’t see why that’s not a possibility. If scheduling is an issue with this employee, maybe you should consider creating the schedule yourself or having another employee create the schedule. When you gain more control over the schedule, overtime should most likely become less of an issue. Additionally, you can also try limiting when she can clock in and clock out. Timesheets.com, for instance, has overtime controls that allow you to stop employees from clocking in before a certain time, you can limit lunch time, and you can also control clock-out times. As an employer, you can create the schedule and cut hours, as long as you’re paying her at least minimum wage and paying her for overtime. For additional information from the FLSA: “The FLSA requires that all covered non-exempt employees receive at least the applicable Federal minimum wage for all hours worked. In a week in which employees work overtime, they must receive their regular rate of pay and overtime pay at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for all overtime hours. The Act does not preclude an employer from lowering an employee’s hourly rate, provided the rate paid is at least the minimum wage, or from reducing the number of hours the employee is scheduled to work.” I hope that helps!

Paul Baker November 17, 2019 - 9:29 am

So the company I work for has been sold to another person can they cut my wages. Just want to make sure I’m not getting taken advantage of worked here for over 1 year and they have cut my hourly wage by 30% I live in Iowa

Lindsay Sommers November 22, 2019 - 3:28 pm

If there isn’t a contract with your rate of pay stated clearly, the new business that implemented the acquisition can legally cut your wages.

Vincent Gomora December 9, 2019 - 8:04 pm

I’m paid hourly in Virginia I get 11.50 I was late 30min to work one day I was at fault but my employer changed my rate for the whole week to 9.00 is this legal? It was changed back to 11.50 for the next week but we are told if we are late or miss a day or call out are rate for the whole pay period will be reduced to 9.00.

Lindsay Sommers December 11, 2019 - 11:21 am

Employers are allowed to reduce an employees pay in most cases. If you and other employees are aware of the pay cut policy, it’s technically legal because it doesn’t count as a “surprise”. It looks as though Virginia doesn’t have regulations regarding decreased pay, so your employer is most likely allowed to take such actions as needed. I would suggest speaking with a legal counsel or your local labor board in regards to see if this is legal.

Brad Brecht December 24, 2019 - 9:17 am

Can a company cut the pay of just one employee, and not the resat of the workforce

Lindsay Sommers December 24, 2019 - 2:15 pm

Technically an employer can cut any employee’s pay at any time. If it isn’t a case of discrimination, it’s legal to cut an employee’s pay.

Brad Brecht December 25, 2019 - 6:54 am

So an employer CAN cut the pay of one employee and not the rest of their employees? Even though there was no demotion?

Lindsay Sommers December 31, 2019 - 3:01 pm

Most employers can reduce an employee’s pay as long as: 1) they tell the employee first 2) It’s not a case of discrimination 3) The pay cut isn’t breaching a contract 4) the pay cut doesn’t reach below minimum wage. Yes, you are the only person who got a pay cut, but can you prove that it was because of sex, gender, age, race, etc. Most of the time, if you can’t support your case, then it’s legal. I would suggest speaking with someone about a worker’s discrimination case, preferably one who is familiar with the law and can provide legal help.

Day Tona January 2, 2020 - 12:21 pm

I began a new job 4 months ago and was offered $16.58 per hour. I accepted this part time position. However, during the holiday I was asked to work a few extra hours which I was happy to do so. Upon viewing my paystub online I noticed that it was over $223 less than expected. I then viewed my paystub throughly and noticed that my pay rate was lowered to $10.75. I’m so confused can they change your pay without notice. This is not the rate I agreed upon. For 4 months I’ve been paid $16.58 per hour.

Lindsay Sommers January 7, 2020 - 1:28 pm

According to the FLSA, “The Act does not preclude an employer from lowering an employee’s hourly rate, provided the rate paid is at least the minimum wage, or from reducing the number of hours the employee is scheduled to work.” However, it sounds like your situation was a surprise, which is not legal in most cases. You should bring this up with your HR department or seek legal advice from a qualifying representative.

Diane January 3, 2020 - 5:47 am

My employer reduced my hourly rate to offset paying overtime pay without telling me. We agreed to a set hourly rate when I first started. Two weeks after he stated he doesn’t pay overtime. 3 months later is when he changed my hourly rate to offset overtime y. Is that legal without notifying me of the decrease in my hourly rate?

Lindsay Sommers January 7, 2020 - 1:54 pm

Your employer shouldn’t typically be able to reduce your pay without a warning. I would suggest speaking with your HR department or a legal counsel.

Susan Virden January 5, 2020 - 11:36 am

My company is reducing the pay rates of all the receptionists and reducing some from 5 day work weeks to 3. Are the required to inform employees what their new hourly wage will be?

Lindsay Sommers January 7, 2020 - 2:31 pm

Your employer is legally allowed to give you a paycut with a new wage, as long as your new wage doesn’t fall below minimum wage. If you salaried, it’s usually customary that your employer tells you about your new wage, but you’re an hourly employee. If I were you, I would speak with your manager or HR department about your new wage.

John Kennedy January 7, 2020 - 4:29 pm

My agreement upon accepting a job was 16 an hour plus 75 non tax reimbursement a week. They took the reimbursement away from my pay without notifying me prior to that? Is that legal? I am in Pennsylvania

Bec January 12, 2020 - 9:43 am

Ok I have a couple questions I get paid hourly at a non profit business and they say that the law doesn’t require them to pay over time. I’ve tried to research this but I don’t see any where that non profits aren’t required to pay time and Half for overtime. Is that legal? In addition I took a pay cut of ten percent but it was due to the fact that I was demoted. The only problem I have is that I was demoted over six months ago without any cut in pay then it just happened on my paycheck yesterday. My boss said a few weeks ago that upper management was complaining about how much I make but at no time was I told I would receive this large of a pay cut or when to expect it I understand it’s not legal to surprise an employee with a pay cut, but what steps should the employee take moving forward?

Lindsay Sommers January 13, 2020 - 11:48 am

The FLSA requires all employees to get paid at least minimum wage along with proper overtime calculations (1.5X 40 hours every workweek). Additionally, your employers are supposed to notify you when a pay cut is being made. I would suggest speaking with a legal representative at your convenience or contact the DOL wage and labor violations department.

Don Goodyear January 13, 2020 - 6:02 pm

For the past three years I have been working as a supervisor for 12 hours a day. The last year I’ve had health issues and have been seeing a cardiologist. Recently, I’ve told my boss that I can’t keep up these 12 hour days from 8am to 8pm Monday thru Friday due to my health issues. I offered to work from 12 noon to 8pm. He told me if I couldn’t work 12 hour days he would lower my hourly rate. Now when I started this position he told me I was kinda salaried. So can he pay me a lower hourly rate due to health issues?

Lindsay Sommers January 14, 2020 - 2:42 pm

Hi there. First, I want to address that you can only be a salaried or an hourly employee– not both. Now that being said, salaried employees get paid no matter how many hours they work during a pay period; however, they get paid based on the assumption that they will work a certain amount of hours each week. On the other hand, hourly employees get paid based on how many hours they work during a pay period. Technically your employer can legally give you a pay cut if it doesn’t breach any written contract, if you’re an at-will employee, and if the pay cut doesn’t make your pay fall below minimum wage. However, since you have health issues, this may be a problem with the DOL. I would suggest speaking with The Wage and Hour Division. You can visit their webiste http://www.wagehour.dol.gov or call their toll-free help line, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone, at 1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243).

Sharon January 22, 2020 - 8:04 pm

My daughter is only 22 and is fresh out of college. She started her job in November and her hourly rate was told 12 an hr. Then she had her 1st valuation at the beginning of January and everything was fine they told her to keep the good work. Then this week they pull her in the office telling her that they are reducing her pay to 10 hr because of hear say of other women saying she is not doing things properly on x-rays which shes has not been trained she was just thrown in a position that she never learned in school. She did however resign because the commute is to far for that pay and not to mention she has a college degree. They had no facts other than hear say. Is this legal.

Lindsay Sommers January 29, 2020 - 9:53 am

Under FLSA regulation, employers can reduce pay or cut hours for an employee at any time as long as the employee is at least getting paid minimum wage and obtains overtime after 40 hours in a workweek. I can see how it seems unfair that they reduced her pay without proper documentation, but in most cases, an employer doesn’t need to necessarily provide a reason for reducing someone’s pay. I would suggest seeking advice from a legal representative or speaking with the Department of Labor to see if you have a case.

Beatriz A Parra February 20, 2020 - 5:21 am

I work at Dr office and we will be join another group of Doctors our manager is going to cut our salary most of us have worked for them over 13 years and we will stop seen patients march 20 but she has only said we are moving she has not said to any one else what’s going on only to 1 person not really letting is know what’s going to happen she wont talk to us I only know this info fr on another recourse it has been stressful for all of us because she does not have a formal meeting to let us know what’s going to happen please help

Lindsay Sommers February 20, 2020 - 4:27 pm

There’s a potential that your company is going through changes, which could explain why there’s been a lack of transparency among supervisors and employees. If companies go through drastic changes, there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of on the back end before letting employees know what is going on. They will most likely communicate with you soon in regards to what is going on, however, it doesn’t hurt to potentially speak with a supervisor to see what is going on.

Jai mitcheam February 23, 2020 - 12:04 pm

I have been at my current job for 3 years. After the break for Christmas we came back and more work was added to the job for the same pay with no notice. After a few months we got compensated for the extra work but now in the middle of the pay period (we get paid biweekly so at the start of the second week) we were notified that effective immediately no compensation would be made for the extra work including what had already been done . Is this legal?

Al Lozzano March 4, 2020 - 1:39 pm

Hi – I would welcome any help on this matter. I was hired on at a company to manage accounts, I was paid for sales within those accounts a commission. A sales person from another area quit and the company hired from within. The person they promoted was making a little over minimum wage at the time, the company could not justify to themselves increasing her base salary to the base amount that the other sales team were making. So the company ” re-aligned” the territories and customers in them so that she would be making more money on her commissions every month to offset the lower base pay. Sounds fair – right?? I thought so too until I realized that the offset dollar amount was coming from customers that were once part of my territory and now I am getting less money on my commissions. Is this legal?? It certainly isn’t fair.
What happens if they increase her base salary in a year, I asked and I still would not get the customers back or the money.

Maria R. Guinto March 8, 2020 - 11:58 am

I am a full time employee and went on disability for 2 weeks and my Dr Note said I could go back to rugular duty., but when I came to work my days are cut, instead of 5days now is 3days. can my employer cut my working days when coming from disability? there reason is over staff.

Lindsay Sommers March 18, 2020 - 3:47 pm

Normally, if an employer cuts your hours and isn’t doing it for discriminatory reasons (disability, race, gender, etc.), then the cut is legal. Still, I would recommend speaking with a legal counsel or contacting the ADA: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/ada18.cfm for assistance.

Tiffany March 20, 2020 - 2:47 pm

Does my employer have to put the salary cut in writing to all employees? Our company is supposed to be taking a 30% pay cut across the whole company starting April 1, 2020.

Lindsay Sommers March 25, 2020 - 3:55 pm

Some employers are allowed to give a pay cut verbally rather than in writing. I would suggest speaking with your local labor board about your state laws– they will know whether or not a verbal notification is acceptable or not.

Jerry P March 20, 2020 - 4:17 pm

Just got an email saying that all employees’ pay is being cut by 30%, which will be reflected in the next paycheck (Mar 31). Didn’t sign or agree to anything. The pay period of this next paycheck is Mar 14 to Mar 31, which means this whole week (Mar 16 to Mar 20), I unknowingly worked for 30% less money. Totally illegal right?

Lindsay Sommers March 25, 2020 - 3:44 pm

An employer is legally allowed to reduce a non-exempt employee’s hourly rate, as long as the new rate is not below minimum wage. Additionally, pay cuts are legal for salaried employees as long as your employer notified you about the pay cut beforehand. Since you worked at an unknowingly new rate and your employer told you retroactively, I would suggest that you file a complaint with your state’s department of labor.

Patti May 21, 2020 - 9:56 pm

Hi, I am a dental hygienist In Ct and currently furloughed from a large DSO corporation in New England. Last week all hygienists from the CT DSO dental offices were told to attend a Dental Hygiene Zoom call to review updates and procedures. During the Zoom call we were surprised when they announced we would no longer be receiving our hourly pay that we agreed to when the office was bought by Corp. This is not only a big pay cut but also not guaranteed pay since people are scared to go the dental offices. We were told we had to report for our scheduled hours and would only get paid 33% net pay from billable dental hygiene treatments. No patient, no pay. Is this legal, it seems very unethical!

Lindsay Sommers May 22, 2020 - 2:10 pm

Hi Patti. Although it doesn’t seem fair, most pay cuts are actually legal and an employer can cut pay at any time. They just can’t cut your paycheck and tell you about the pay cut afterwards. Additionally, there might be an issue with the pay cut if it breaches your contract. Each state has its own rules in regards to how pay cut notifications work (i.e. how soon you must tell employees, whether you can tell them via email or if you must notify in person, etc), so I recommend that you speak with your local state labor board about this.

Brent March 22, 2020 - 1:40 pm

Is it legal to give employees a 50% pay cut,I am aware of the paycut

Lindsay Sommers March 25, 2020 - 3:58 pm

An employer can cut an employee’s pay at any time. A paycut is legal as long as you are notified prior, the pay cut isn’t discriminatory, your pay isn’t under minimum wage, and if the paycut doesn’t breach any contracts. For more clarity in regards to the legality of this situation, I suggest speaking with your local labor board.

Victoria July 24, 2020 - 2:23 pm

Im in Ohio. I quit my job recently and the company reduced the previous pay periods wages to minimum wage. We signed a policy during orientation but it stated the last paycheck. This is not the last paycheck as another is coming. Im a healthcare worker how is this legal at all?

Lindsay Sommers July 30, 2020 - 5:57 pm

Hi Victoria. I’m sorry to hear about this. I suggest that you speak with your HR representative at your company to get this handled and to see what steps you need to take to get this resolved.

Sean Barker March 23, 2020 - 6:27 pm

How does this effect paid time off that you have accrued at your original rate?

Lindsay Sommers March 25, 2020 - 4:29 pm

Hi! That’s quite an interesting question. First, I don’t believe that a pay cut would affect how you accrue your time off because time off is based on hours, not pay rate. . Also, I would assume that the hours you previously accrued were already earned at your regular rate of pay. If you were to leave the company, you would most likely get paid out at the rate of pay that you accrued those hours. If you need to know if a pay cut affected your time off, you should speak with your HR department or local labor board.

Cj March 26, 2020 - 12:49 am

Hi , we have had a 45% pay cut and been told that we will work 2 weeks on and 1 off due to the Coronavirus affecting business, but the 2 weeks on will be a 6 day working week , when I would normally only work 5 is this legal.
Thank you

Lindsay Sommers March 26, 2020 - 4:07 pm

An employer is legally allowed to cut an employees pay and amount of hours. If your employer told you about the pay change after they already implemented your new pay or changed pay based on discrimination, that would not be legal.

Pete April 2, 2020 - 8:47 am

Are you hourly or salaried? If hourly, check state overtime laws, since they may be required to pay overtime if 40 hours per week are exceeded. If salaried, this is probably legal (Think of schools that require teachers to come in on Saturday or breaks to make up lost time).

Taylor James March 27, 2020 - 12:24 am

My employer mandated a compensation reduction for all employees claiming it is due to the effects of coronavirus. Our business has been considered essential, and I have data to back up that our business has seen increased sales since the coronavirus outbreak. The circumstances do not warrant compensation reductions, and are not in the spirit of the small business interruption loans.

If our founder is trying to take advantage of the stimulus package, is there recourse we may be able to take? My pay has been cut below the amount of laid off workers receiving unemployment benefits, and I will be unable to cover the costs of living next month while our founder is purchasing a new personal home and a new property for the business to expand.

Is there recourse you recommend I take and could this be deemed as taking advantage of a horrible situation?

Lindsay Sommers March 30, 2020 - 12:03 pm

I would suggest speaking with your office about potential partial benefits you can receive. Go to this website https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx?location=CA&keyword=&persist=true&ajax=0 and select your state’s location to see how you can access your state’s unemployment office.

Concerned Mom March 31, 2020 - 10:40 am

I’m a county government employee in NJ, and am salaried.

Due to the current pandemic, I am working from home. There has been some mention of possible pay cuts.

I cannot afford a reduction in pay since the provisions for my children & bills (primarily, rent & auto loan) are depended on my salary as-is.

As a salaried employee, would I be exempt from a pay cut or am I still a “sitting duck”?

Lindsay Sommers April 2, 2020 - 7:07 pm

Your employer can unfortunately cut your salary at any time, as long as your new rate still complies with salary basis requirements and doesn’t breach your contract. If the pay cut breaches your contract, that can potentially be a legal problem. If that’s the case, you’ll have to speak with the DOL or legal counsel for assistance.

Curtis Hall April 24, 2020 - 6:44 pm


I am a consultant with a consulting company. I have a contract that specifies an hourly wage. I am a Disabled Veteran with a Service Connected disability. My workload has not changed during the virus. I was notified by my consulting company that all contractors hourly wage would be cut by 25 percent. My reduced hourly wage will be reduced starting April 25, 2020. I spoke with another coworker who share 1/2 of my work load for one of my two accounts. His salary has not been reduced. I have six months on my contract remaining. I think I was singled out because of my disability. Do I have a legal recourse. My two clients are delighted with my work ethics. Should I contact a labor attorney? I stayed on after my contract was renewed even thought I had an offer for more money at another job. This company has contracts with state and federal agencies.

Lindsay Sommers April 28, 2020 - 4:10 pm

Yes, I would recommend that you speak with a legal counsel about this issue. They would be able to guide you and let you know whether you have a solid case.

Yevette March 31, 2020 - 10:44 am

The company decided to cut all salaried workers pay by 20%. WE all have a contract in place that we were required to sign. Isn’t this illegal to reduce pay essentially breaching the contract upon hire?

Lindsay Sommers April 2, 2020 - 7:08 pm

It could be a potential breach of contract. To know for sure, I recommend speaking with a legal counsel or the DOL.

Travis March 31, 2020 - 7:39 pm

I was hired in January 2020 as full time and paid $12.00 an hour. Within a month I was offered a promotion with new position and a pay raise to $14.25 an hour. Due to the recent Coronavirus situation my performance has gone down due to it. My employer told me if I wanted to leave this position I had to go down to part time and a pay cut to only $9.50 an hour and even go into a different department altogether otherwise I need to quit. Is this legal here in Florida? My job has been impacted by the virus frustrating me so I asked about going back and that was my only option.

Lindsay Sommers April 2, 2020 - 7:21 pm

Technically an employer can cut pay and hours legally at any time. Most employees are “at will”, which means that employers can take any action whenever necessary. It looks as though the current minimum wage in Florida is $8.46/hr. If your employer goes any lower than that, then his actions will be considered illegal– you must at least get paid minimum wage when working. In regards to your lack of payment, I suggest speaking with your local unemployment office about partial unemployment benefits. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of people are getting assistance to make up for their lost wages. You can find your unemployment office info here: https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/unemployment-benefits.aspx?frd=true

Chris Finn March 31, 2020 - 8:56 pm

Dear Lindsay,
As a result of the COVD-19 virus people in my Massachusetts company have been laid off, furloughed, or, for salaried workers, been informed of a 30% pay cut for the company to survive. If I do not accept the pay-cut, will I be ineligible for unemployment benefits through my state?

Thank you,

Lindsay Sommers April 2, 2020 - 12:30 pm

Hi Chris, I would suggest that you speak with your unemployment office directly about your situation. Go here https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx?location=MA to find information about MA’s general unemployment office. I suggest trying to speak with someone on the phone to assess your circumstances. They would know their unemployment benefit program the best.

Tiffany DeDecker April 2, 2020 - 1:11 pm

Hello I need some help. So I went to clock in today as a manager and I realized that my job code wasn’t working. I asked my GM why I couldn’t use my number and that’s when he informed me that the company took my pay rate away from me yesterday without my knowledge and basically told me that if I don’t still manage the days I’m supposed to that he was going to cut my hours as well. What do I do? I live in St Pete Florida

Lindsay Sommers April 6, 2020 - 3:21 pm

I’m sorry to hear that. An employer must tell you about your pay cut prior to implementing the pay decrease, or else it’s considered unlawful. I suggest speaking with a legal counsel.

HT April 5, 2020 - 5:14 pm

I was working 15 Dollar 1 hrs. due to my health issue I was sick leave and return to work temp limitation company excepted to work. I noticed that my pay rate was lowered to $10.00. I’m so confused can they change your pay without notice. This is not the rate I agreed upon. For 10 months I’ve been paid $15.00 per hour.

Lindsay Sommers April 6, 2020 - 4:02 pm

They should have notified you about your pay rate. I would suggest that you either file a claim with the Department of Labors Wage an Hour Division, or speak with a legal counsel for advice.

Matthew April 6, 2020 - 8:36 am

I’m in Ontario, Canada, so I’m not sure if you’ll be able to answer my question. My employer hired me on contract, and gave me a raise (verbal agreement) of $5000 per year. He hasn’t actually given me that raise, and has continued to pay me at the rate in the contract. Now, he is cutting my pay, and going to pay me even less than what is in my contract. I’m an independent contractor. I have also been paid late many times, and I now haven’t recieved my pay for the previous month, nor have I gotten the difference between my base pay and my post-raise pay for the last several months.

In short, he owes me a lot of money, and has not even paid me for the last month, and now is cutting my salary. Is this legal? Do I have any recourse?

Lindsay Sommers April 6, 2020 - 4:14 pm

I’m unfortunately not familiar with Canadian law, however, I do know that employers are supposed to pay employees for their work. If an employer hasn’t paid you for work yet, I’m sure there’s some sort of legal time frame for your employer to pay you for your work. If they don’t pay you within a certain time frame, they could fall into legal trouble. Additionally, an employer must also pay an employee based on the contract. If your employer isn’t doing so, they are potentially breaching your contract. If I were you, I would speak with an attorney or contact Ontario’s labor department to see if you can file a claim.

Jane April 6, 2020 - 11:06 pm

My employer is reducing except employees hours to 32 hours per week and resulting in pay reduction. They are requiring us to work more than 32 hours. Is this legal? Can they reduce hours and still make us work without the pay?

Lindsay Sommers April 8, 2020 - 1:54 pm

I’m a little confused by your question, but I’ll try to answer as best I can. I want to start with this: an employer is legally allowed to cut employee’s pay and hours at any time (as long as they notice employees beforehand). An exempt employee is typically a salaried employee, and a salaried employee is expected to get paid the same amount each pay period, no matter the amount of hours they work each week. A non-exempt employee is typically an hourly employee. Hourly employees are paid by the hour and obtain overtime for the hours they work. Your employer can adjust hours at any time, but they must pay employees for the hours that they work (if they’re hourly-based employees).

Sandra Aponte April 7, 2020 - 6:47 pm

I am in the state of Florida and I work for a large car dealership they have just informed us that they will be cutting our hours from 40 to 35 and also cut our income by 10% because of the Corona virus is this even legal during the pandemic

Lindsay Sommers April 10, 2020 - 4:56 pm

Technically an employer can cut your pay and hours legally. As long as they told you about the paycuts beforehand and it doesn’t breach your employee contracts, it is lawful. If you need assistance during the pandemic, I suggest speaking with your local unemployment office about partial unemployment benefits.

Nikhil Mehta April 10, 2020 - 12:13 pm

Dear Jane
On 7th of April, I have successfully completed my notice period and was waiting for my full and final payment but yesterday my boss dropped me a message that he will be reducing the pay by 30% due to COVID-19 but on 25th of March, he dropped me a message that everyone will get the full salary of “March 2020” and during the end he has changed his statement. So, please guide what should I do in this situation ?
Note: In our country lock-down begins from 23rd of March and from that day I had been working from home and used to send reports daily.

with Best Regards
Nikhil Mehta

Lindsay Sommers April 13, 2020 - 9:54 am

I would suggest that you speak with a legal counsel or the department of Wage and Hour Divisions about your salary concerns.

Jimmy April 13, 2020 - 10:01 pm

My employer pays by a set amount for each shift, and my boss also promised increase in pay due to the virus. This is why I had been requesting for extra shifts to work as many shifts as I could. Today I got my paycheck, I am not nearly getting what I am supposed to be paid for. Is that legal?

Lindsay Sommers April 17, 2020 - 9:41 am

Your employer is normally legally allowed to cut your pay at any time; however, if you both agreed on a new pay increase and he didn’t follow through, that can be a problem. If an employer isn’t paying you with the agreed-upon rate, that may be considered a breach of contract by the DOL or a legal counsel. First, I would check with a legal counsel to ensure that your employer isn’t practicing unlawful activity regarding your pay. Second, in regards to your hourly rate, you should also make sure that you’re not getting paid under minimum wage. If you get paid less than minimum wage in your city, you would potentially file a wage and hour division complaint.

Janice Douglas April 14, 2020 - 8:30 am

I am a caregiver in a state of PA I work 10.50 an hour and I do get time and a half for working 10 hours seven days a week recently I started working four days at $12 but because of the coronavirus I needed additional hours but my employer is saying I have to go back to 1050 an hour which I agreed to do but is this legal for me to work 1050 when I work over 40 hours and $12 an hour when I work less than 40?

Lindsay Sommers April 17, 2020 - 10:05 am

Your employer can pay you any amount as long as they are paying you for every hour you work. So, if you were working 4 days a week at $12/hr, that shouldn’t be a problem. If your hourly wage is $10.50/hr now, your employer must pay you $10.50 for every hour that you work. Additionally, Pennsylvania law requires employers to pay overtime at 1.5X (your normal pay rate) when you work over 40 hours in a workweek. With your current rate at $10.50, your overtime rate would be $15.75/hr when you work over 40 hours in a workweek. So, yes– your employer can pay you any agreed-upon rate as long as they follow PA law requirements.

BH April 15, 2020 - 10:35 pm

Hello! I work for a company where I recently found I’ve been paid $2 less than what was agreed upon after an “introductory period” for 6 pay cycles now. Is there any legal action possible besides ‘you need to pay me for that’?

Thank you!

Lindsay Sommers April 17, 2020 - 11:15 am

I’m sorry to hear that! I would say that the best course of action would either be: applying for a DOL wage violation claim OR speaking with an employment attorney.

Lindsay Sommers April 17, 2020 - 10:25 am

First, an employer shouldn’t cut your pay without your knowledge because that is unlawful. From the way you describe, it seems as though she handed you your paycheck with a significantly lower wage and didn’t tell you that the hours you had worked previously were at less pay. That’s not okay because that means you unknowingly worked at a different wage for that entire pay period. An employer can’t give you your paycheck and then tell you that they cut your pay; that’s an employer saying “Hey, just wanted to let you know that those 40 hours you worked last week were $5.00 less than you normally make. I hope that’s okay!”… it’s not okay! You didn’t agree to that. Your employer would have to implement your new lower wage on the next paycheck. That way, you have knowledge that you’re working at a lower wage. You should certainly speak with a legal counsel about this issue. Additionally, in regards to the pay cut 1 hours notification she provided, the rules vary by state. Some states require pay cut notifications through letters or emails, while some believe that verbal communication is valid. Some states require at least 30 days notice while others don’t. I recommend checking with your local state labor board to clarify whether or not your employer was being lawful.

Rjay Jones April 17, 2020 - 6:36 pm

I got hired making 11 dollars an hour home health aid but I’ve noticed my pay decrease to 9 dollars an hour when I go over 40 hours I have checks at 11 an hour an some with 9 ak hour I’m in state of Pennsylvania is this legal?

Lindsay Sommers April 24, 2020 - 10:14 am

hmm, your hourly wage gets lower when you are supposed to earn overtime? That doesn’t sound legal. According to Pennsylvania law, employees are entitles to at least minimum wage and overtime pay at 1.5X your normal rate of pay after $40 hours in a workweek. That being said, any hours over you work over 40 hours in a workweek should actually be $16.50/hr and no lower. You should certainly speak with your HR department about this issue. If you don’t have one, I suggest filing a wage complaint with the department of labor.

Brittany Smith May 1, 2020 - 3:42 am

My employer is cutting everyone’s paycheck by 10% even after working full time hours. We get paid salary, and only 5 people working in the office. Can he do that legally?

Lindsay Sommers May 1, 2020 - 6:34 pm

In most cases, an employer can cut any employee’s pay legally. This is especially common during an economic decline. There are only a few ways that this is not legal: discrimination, a surprise, retaliation, breach of contract. If your employer didn’t commit unlawful activity, it is completely legal to decrease an employee’s pay.

Magen Roberts May 4, 2020 - 9:54 pm

I was informed on this past Friday that on Monday I have to start at 16.00 instead of 20.00 and I loose a day so I’m down to 2 days now. My work received a PPP loan a week or so ago. This is a significant decrease with no heads up. Plus a decrease in hours. I’m also the only one this is happing too. We have 55 other employees and they aren’t getting pay decreases. Plus the owners added themselves to the payroll at a hefty salary about 2 weeks ago. I was cut my pay because I’m a hired paid employee I feel like this is discrimination? Am I wrong. Everyone else at the company is making same pay some overtime and I can’t get a reason in writing why I’m being cut pay and hours. Do they have to give it to me in writing ? The reason I mean because I’m a loyal employee never did anything to be demoted.

Lindsay Sommers May 6, 2020 - 3:51 pm

I’m sorry to hear about this. Depending on the state you live in, a verbal pay cut notification may be viable; however, in some states, they require written agreements. So, you’ll want to check with your state government about that specifically. Now, in regards to your potential discrimination case, you will want to speak with an employment lawyer about your case. It might be hard to prove that it’s discrimination, so speaking with an expert will be beneficial to you.

Robert May 6, 2020 - 9:48 am

Question? Our company recently claimed that Sales were looking bad and needed to cut salaries because of the Coronavirus. Most people are working from home while some people need to still go into the office. Only people working from home received the pay cut. Is this legal or a form of discrimination?

Lindsay Sommers May 6, 2020 - 4:38 pm

That’s a question that you’ll want to ask an employment attorney. They will be able to guide you and let you know if that counts as discrimination or not.

Le May 11, 2020 - 5:31 am

I got hired as a Machinist 10 years ago . Last week employer tranfer me to differren job classisfication and cut my pay by $6 / hour . Can employer do that to me ?

Nila May 11, 2020 - 9:36 am

hi, I am a salaried employee who got furloughed back in march. after we worked our last 2 weeks, my boss told me they would be cutting my salary 50%. only mine in the company. and then they retroactively cut my last 2 weeks I worked by 50%. I know that has to be illegal and did not know what to say at the time. Now that talks of reopening are coming up I am afraid that 50% paycut for most likely MORE responsibility will be required of me. (given the extra work from covid precautions etc) Can I decline and stay on unemployment until I find another position? or can I apply for partial unemployment benefits even if I am working 40hrs for 50% pay? I can’t get anyone on the phones at unemployment office. I need advice! thank you

Sebastian May 14, 2020 - 2:18 am

it is normal or legal for the employer to reduce your salary by 15% according to Covid-19, tjanks

Lindsay Sommers May 14, 2020 - 11:07 am

Hi, there. Paycuts are very normal, especially in a time of economic crisis. Business owners need to cut costs in areas, and paying employees less is usually the best way to save the business. In most cases, your employer can cut your hours for any reason, as long as your employer is following FLSA and state law requirements. You should take a look at this article I wrote about pay cuts during COVID-19: https://blog.timesheets.com/2020/04/is-it-legal-to-cut-an-employees-pay-and-hours-because-of-covid-19/

Don Jansen May 14, 2020 - 12:32 pm

My stepson was sent home from the start of lockdown and was paid in full for the first three weeks. The fourth week he received half a weeks pay and the fifth week there was no pay at all His employer then called him back to work where he has worked the sixth week but no pay was paid into his personal banking account. No explanation was given and he was given a cash amount. The amount represented 50% less than his weeks wage, On querying it he was told that this represented his weekly wage for the rest of the lockdown period. He will not benefit much from UIF to make up the shortfall as he only contributed the last few months. As hard as a paycut is he really does not have a problem with all that has happened already. What he wants to know is can his employer continue to pay him half his weekly pay but still expect him to work his full weekly hours??????????

Lindsay Sommers May 15, 2020 - 2:34 pm

First, there might be a problem with the fact that your stepson’s employer reduced pay without notice. That is something that you may want to bring up with the DOL Wage and Hour Division department. In regards to his pay cut, his employer can reduce your stepson’s pay at any time (again, as long as he gave prior notice). The reason the employer has to give notice is to the employee can decide whether or not they want to do the same amount of work and earn less compensation for those hours. Overall, yes. He can cut your stepson’s pay and expect him to work.

Dragonfly May 29, 2020 - 12:28 pm

My Employee messaged me 5 min before she gave me a pay cut, in the message she included that due to …. she has had to implement huge pay cuts. 5 min later I received my salary. A 50% cut. Is this seen as a surprise salary cut?

Lindsay Sommers June 2, 2020 - 10:57 am

Some states require a notice in writing within a certain time frame, while other states allow verbal agreements. I suggest that you speak with your state’s local labor board about their specific rules regarding your pay cut notice.

TouShea June 5, 2020 - 12:07 am

I was a salaried employee for the past 3 years. This year they moved me to hourly. I have to work 50 hours a week to be able to make that same pay. So they lowered my hourly rate so that when I hit overtime, I have to do 10 hours in order to make what I made before. I was at 12.37 per hour when on salary. Now my hourly rate is 9.90. Can a business lower your hourly rate so you have to work overtime to make the same pay as I did when on salary?

Lindsay Sommers June 17, 2020 - 11:48 am

An employer can legally raise or lower an employees pay and may switch an employee from hourly to salary (and vice versa) at any time, as long as they’re following FLSA and state regulations. Your employer also mustn’t breach any contracts as well, so that’s something you may want to look into.

Q June 17, 2020 - 5:59 am

If you are a finance manager at an auto dealership and the dealership sells to a new owner and the pay plan is changed, if the finance manager refuses to sign the pay change what are his/her options? If he/she does not sign and the general manager does not fire him/her, can they still make the pay change?

Lindsay Sommers June 22, 2020 - 5:54 pm

Unfortunately this is a question that would would need to ask an HR expert or attorney.

Melissa Fritz June 19, 2020 - 7:05 am

I am a Care Giver I live in Pennsylvania I started with a new company in Nov I noticed my rate was incorrect my starting rate was to be 10.75 an hr when I seen I was being paid 11.75 I went directly to the office and was told it would be changed the next pay period it still wasn’t changed so again I contacted them so after contacting them 2 times about the mistake ! So it’s been 8 months and I dropped off a time off request 2 months in advance so they find coverage for my client because I’m going on Vacation for the first time ever to Hawaii for the birth of my best friends first Grandbaby ! I get my next paycheck and my pay rate was changed to 10.50 an hr after 8 months of working for the company and never got notification of the change!

Emma June 22, 2020 - 12:09 pm

If a salaried employee is asked to take a 50% reduction in pay and hours worked (which would be untenable & a dramatic change in income & job description ), can you decline? How do you do so and still be eligible to collect unemployment? Or is that the same thing as quitting, barring you from filling for unemployment?

Lindsay Sommers June 24, 2020 - 3:00 pm

You can technically decline payment, but your unemployment eligibility would be entirely up to your state’s unemployment insurance office. There’s a chance that your UI office will decline you because you’re refusing to work for your employer. However, that’s not always the case. I advise that you speak directly with your UI office since they’re the people who make the decision of whether or not you receive benefits.

Larry Spillman June 28, 2020 - 7:48 pm

I am a Director of Facilities and member of the executive committee for a Native Owned Casino and Hotel. I have been employed in my present position for 4 years. I am 69 years old. We have stopped operations due to the Coronavirus pandemic and I am on furlough. Our GM/CEO and I have a very good relationship. My GM called me and stated that he needed me to accept a new position that would be a manager position and paid $70,000.00, which is $20,000.00 less that I receive in my current position. His reasoning for this is that he is afraid we might lose our Maintenance Manager, who I promoted into the position 3 years ago and whom I trained to someday step into my position when I retire in 2 years. I was shocked and asked why he wanted to move him into my position and I accept a lower position. He again told me he is afraid we will lose him since he needs more money. He added that he needs me to continue mentoring and training him. Is this legal to remove me without cause?

Lindsay Sommers July 2, 2020 - 6:13 pm

Most employees are at-will employees, meaning that an employer can cut your pay or hours at any time. However, an employer typically cannot cut your pay if it breaks your contract. I suggest that you speak with an HR representative about this to assist you.

Jt tucker July 3, 2020 - 9:43 pm

My wife is a nurse in PA and she is a contracted per diam worker who has her pay and hours stated in the contract. Her a long with some other nurses in her department were just told they’re jobs are gone and we’re made to choose other jobs. The other nurses do not have contracts. All the nurses affected by this, it seems, are the highest paid in the department. The new jobs she was allowed to select from are lower pay and less hours! Is this illegal and if so what should she do?

Millicent July 11, 2020 - 4:23 pm

I was earning 6500 with the previous employer, then the new employer came, he said nothing will change we will continue work the way it was, all of a sudden he changed everything, he cutted my salary from 6500 to 4000, is it fair for me that my new employer should cut so money?

Lindsay Sommers July 16, 2020 - 5:04 pm

Unless you’re under a specific, legally binding contract, the new employer may reduce your pay and benefits. When your company was acquired, you might also expect a new time off policy with accruals, adjusted pay, different schedules, and more.

Brandon July 13, 2020 - 8:23 am

After missing a week due to sickness, my employer changed me from salary to hourly. It was at the same hourly rate that the salary was based on, so I would make the same weekly. I was told last Friday that the owner had decided to reduce my hourly rate of pay almost 20%, and that I would work overtime in order to make up the deficit. I was told that this reduction in hourly wages, and overtime to compensate would be retroactive 2 pay periods. I know from reading this article that the retroactive, or “Surprise” pay reductions is not legal, but what about the requirement to work overtime in order to continue to make the same weekly amount?

Lindsay Sommers July 16, 2020 - 5:06 pm

This will depend on what state you reside. However, in general, employers can require employees to work overtime hours unless you are covered by a collective bargaining agreement or another employment contract.

Michael Rossetti July 15, 2020 - 8:47 am

Me and my employee agreed on me being laid off I was making 1050 an hour and now that I want to go back he wants to pay me 775 an hour right now is this Fair does anybody have answers

Lindsay Sommers July 16, 2020 - 1:09 pm

Hi Michael. Are you an at-will employee? You most likely are, and your employer can choose to cut your pay at any time if that’s the case. I don’t want to assume, however your employer may have decided to cut your pay in order to cut overall business costs to stay afloat during the pandemic. It’s actually very common for employees to return to a different wage than they had before. If you aren’t under a union contract or other employment contracts, your employee can choose to pay you at whatever rate they please.

Jane Doe July 18, 2020 - 8:18 am

Hello. I work part time (at-will employment, no contracts) for a doctors’ private practice in Alabama. I was told that if you ever quit, she will cut your pay to minimum wage without notice. If you just get up and quit randomly, your next paycheck with the hours you’ve already worked prior to quitting will be at the minimum wage rate (retroactive I guess). If you give a two weeks notice she’ll also reduce your rate to minimum wage for the last two weeks, which I believe is legal as long as you’re notified. But is it legal for her to retroactively reduce your wages without notice for hours already worked in retaliation to quitting without notice?

Lindsay Sommers July 21, 2020 - 4:32 pm

Wow that’s very interesting. Usually it’s illegal to retroactively cut someone’s pay because they employee didn’t agree to work for that specific wage when they worked those hours. I would suggest that you speak with your local labor board about your state’s rules because they do vary by state and sometimes by city.

Fractal July 22, 2020 - 4:03 am

I am a shift supervisor, but when I cover a shift that is not a supervisor shift I get lower pay. Can my job legally do this? I wasn’t aware of it when I started, but figured it out the hard way when I saw my pay stubs.

Lindsay Sommers July 27, 2020 - 8:53 am

Hi, there. It’s actually quite common for employers to pay employees at different rates depending on what job they’re doing, so there’s a high chance that it’s perfectly legal. However, you should have been notified that your pay rate would differ depending on the task you were doing. I would suggest that you seek assistance from your HR representative.

timesheets_blog July 28, 2020 - 11:14 am

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Is It Legal to Give an Employee a Pay Cut

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