“Can an employer lay off an employee and then hire him or her back at a reduced salary?”

Question: My boyfriend was laid off in June, 2009, and his company just called him back, but at a reduced salary.

He was making $19.00 per hour when he was laid off, and they are now asking him to come back but with a pay cut down to $15.50 per hour. That’s a decrease of over 18%, and our expenses have not gone down a penny.

Can an employer do this? 

        Cleveland, Ohio

Answer: Lizan, there are many, many laws that regulate the employment relation, such as minimum wage laws, anti-discrimination laws, and workers’ compensation laws. But I have never heard of a law that prohibits what your boyfriend’s employer is doing.

Unless your boyfriend has either a personal employment contract, or a union contract with his employer, that says salary can’t be reduced, the employer can do what it is doing. Your boyfriend is free not to accept a paycut and look for employment elsewhere, although I’m sure finding another job elsewhere would be difficult.

If and when the economy gets better, or your boyfriend develops a skill that the employer feels it really, really needs, your boyfriend may ask to renegotiate. I hope that each of those things happens.

Hope that helps.

         Best, Al Sklover

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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