Must my employer give me written notification of a pay decrease before decreasing my pay?

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011

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Must my employer give me written notification of a pay decrease before decreasing my pay?

This past Friday I was told that I would be getting a pay cut of 10%. I have not received any written documentation and today is our payday. She cannot retroactively give me a pay cut, correct? Also. If she fails to give me written notice before tomorrow (the start of our next payperiod), does the paycut take effect for that payperiod or the following?

Asked on August 30, 2011 Pennsylvania


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No, your employer cannot retroactively reduce your pay. You are entitled to your previous pay rate for work already performed. But moving forward is another matter. Unless you have an employment/union agreement that prohibits such action, or the pay cut in some way violates company policy, or it is a result of actionable discrimination. Absent any of the foregoing your employer was well within its legal rights; such a decrease is perfectly permissible. 

The reason is that most states employment relationships are "at will". Basically, this means is that an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason at all, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as it sees fit - with or with out notice.  In turn, an employee can choose to continue to work for an employer or not. 

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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