When is an employee legally bound to repay money to an employer for earned income?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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When is an employee legally bound to repay money to an employer for earned income?

We have attendance bonus offered. I have 99 attendance 2 years in a row. My employer says he will pay me the 100 I thought I was supposed to receive if I agree to repay my pay increase for last 2 years. My pay went up $2.00 a year ago. Is this legal? He obviously comes out ahead and it feels like he does not see my attendance at work as an asset. I am afraid to return to a training on Monday because he could try to also request training to be repaid if I get job somewhere else.

Asked on August 5, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Repaying income is legal if you agree to it. If you agree to his deal--to get the attendence bonus, you will repay the increase--you'd have to pay it, because in agreeing to that deal, you will contractually obligate yourself to it. If you don't agree, you do not have to repay; an employer can only get wages/salary back from an employee if the employee has agreed or consented to it. Yes, an employer can terminate you if he feels you are too expensive or not worth it, or simply reduce your pay going forward (unless, that is, you have a written contract protecting your employment and/or pay), but he can't take back money you already received without your consent.

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