If I am a commissioned employee, can my employer mandate the I be present in the office for specific hours?

UPDATED: Jun 15, 2011

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If I am a commissioned employee, can my employer mandate the I be present in the office for specific hours?

I currently work for a mortgage lender as a commission only employee. I am supposed to receive $500 per closed loan. I have worked a total of 212 hours since my start date, approximately 6 weeks ago. I have closed 2 loans which I do not receive payment for another 2 weeks. My employer mandates that I am present at work Monday – Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. I have already been threatened and reprimanded for time that I have taken away from the office. What are my labor rights? I feel that I will be terminated at any day without having received a single dollar from this employer if I sneeze wrong, and I have already invested 212 hours, gas, and mileage.

Asked on June 15, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First, an employer can *absolutely* require an employee, no matter  how paid, to be present in the office during any hours it wants. The employer sets the terms and conditions of work, after all, and if someone doesn't like those conditions, the alternative is to seek other employment.

As to whether you'd have to be paid, if fired, for the commissions done to date--as a general matter, you usually would be; employees must be paid for the work they do. However, if there is an agreement, such as a commission agreement, indicating that you must be present at the date commissions are paid to receive them, that would be enforceable. In that case, you'd still usually be able to collect if you were fired--unless, arguably, you were fired for cause, such as for failing to comply with plainly stated location or shift rules. With a for cause firing, it's not as clear that you would absolutely have to be paid.

In short, you put yourself on thin legal ice by not complying with these rules. At a minimum, you could be fired; it's also possible that you might deprive youself of compensation.

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