Can my employer give me my yearly bonus a month early as “incentive” then take it back if I don’t make all my sales plans?

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Can my employer give me my yearly bonus a month early as “incentive” then take it back if I don’t make all my sales plans?

I was given my yearly bonus a month in advance as an “incentive” to finish off the year good. If I don’t make my goals and numbers for the end of the year they are talking about me having to pay it back.. Can they do that?

Asked on January 18, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An employer may pay a bonus (or commission, etc.) early, then recover it if certain terms, goals, targets, etc. are not met. The issue is what was the terms of the bonus agreement--if the agreement required you to make certain numbers to get the bonus, then if when they gave you the bonus early, they did not change those terms, then the bonus is subject to recovery by your employer if you don't meet the goals. Whatever were the terms of the bonus are enforceable.

If there were no qualitative terms for earning the bonus but rather it was discretionary, then once given, they should not be able to seek its recover.


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