How can I reduce my weekly work hours if employer is holding a debt over my head?

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How can I reduce my weekly work hours if employer is holding a debt over my head?

I have a part-time job that was full-time for 2 years. I have an additional full-time, better paying job as well. My part-time job employer loaned me money for a car situation last year, and we agreed I will pay him back 80 per week until it’s paid off. However, now he won’t agree to allow me to reduce my hours in order to work more hours and overtime pay at my other job, which would give me more money to pay him more per week and pay him back quicker. I understand him not wanting me to leave completely before paying him back, but, after I pay him the 80 out of my check, the remaining take home amount equals approximately $6/hour for 20-22 hours per week, below minimum wage. I make 80 in a approximately 8 hours at this job. Those extra 12-14 hours would be better spent making more money to pay him back faster, yet he will not agree to me cutting back my hours and paying him more per week. He seems more interested in having 20-22 hours covered for below minimum wage after taxes and payment back to him than in me paying him back quicker. I am not trying to run from the debt or be unreasonable, its just preventing me from other options for work that would be more money for both me and him. I agreed I would pay him $80 per week. I didn’t agree to pay him 80 per week and work an additional 12-14 hours 20-22 total hours weekly at an average of approximately $6/hour. What laws/rights can I cite to get him to agree so I am not held hostage by a debt I could pay off much quicker by working less hours at this job and more hours plus overtime hours at my other job?

Asked on May 8, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have protection against this action under the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, you have no claim here. The fact is that most employment is "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of work much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). If the hours that you have been set are not agreeable to you, then you can quit and accept other employment. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your employer, not you, determines your work hours: you have no right to work fewer hours than your employer wants you to work, and your employer does not need to accomodate you by reducing your hours. Your situation doesn't matter: the employer, not employee controls hours, and he can insist on certain hours no matter what. Your could, of course, quit entirely so as to get a higher-paying job or work more hours at your second job--he can't keep you from quitting, but he can require that if you do want to work for him, you have to work certain minimum hours. 


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