Can an employer legally decrease your pay without notice?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can an employer legally decrease your pay without notice?

I was hired and agreed to a specific wage and my employer has now decreased my pay, when I noticed the error I reported it to HR and they claim I was under the wrong job code and now I am in the correct one. This explanation is not valid because it was the wage I had agreed to during hiring process. This change happened after working there 1.5 years. I had been getting the agreed wage during that time. I currently still work here and it has now been almost 4 months since I reported this error and nothing has been fixed.

Asked on March 14, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have a union agreement or employment contract that guarantees your rate of pay, your company can reduce your wage as it sees fit. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will" so an employer can set the conditions of the workplace much as it deems appropriate (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). That having been said, no pay reduction can be made without notice. In other words, such a decrease cannot be made retroactively. You must be paid at your old rate up to the time that you were notified of the pay reduction.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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