Generally, your employer can cut your hours without your consent or even notifying you for that matter. An employer can also cut your salary but they must notify you in advance and they cannot make the pay cut retroactive. Therefore any work performed before notification of the reduction in pay, must be paid at the previously higher rate. Generally your employer will give you an effective date for the pay cut but a minimum notification period is not required.
There are some exceptions. First, your employer cannot cut your wages below the minimum wage rate. In addition, if there is an employment contract between the employee and employer that guarantees a minimum wage or number of hours, the employer cannot change this without the consent of the employee. Finally, consider that many companies chose to cut wages or hours in lieu of massive layoffs. With that being said, hours and salary cuts should be equally distributed to all people within a particular department. If the cuts are a result of intent to discriminate or retaliate against a particular group of employees within a protected class then it is illegal.
Sometimes cuts in hours and wages are a necessary business function. Rather than becoming immediately angry, sit down with your supervisor and discuss the expected length of the cuts and explore ways that you can be of additional assistance to the company during the downturn. Also, if your hours have been significantly cut by your employer, you may be entitled to partial unemployment benefits and should contact your state’s Department of Labor for additional information.
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