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Can a salaried worker have his or her pay cut?

One of the benefits of being on a salary, rather than paid by the hour, is that you are theoretically paid for the work you do, not the time. As long as your job is done, you should get the same paycheck every week, even if you worked 30 hours one week and 40 the next.

The question that this raises, then, is whether or not your boss can cut that pay from what you were promised when you took the job.

It's a bit of a gray area. First off, your pay can't simply be docked. For instance, if you come in an hour late on Monday, your boss can't withhold some of your salary. Again, you're not working on an hourly basis, so you're entitled to the whole paycheck.

However, your boss can reduce what you're being paid on a permanent basis. Perhaps you are not getting as much done as they hoped you would, maybe the company is losing money, or maybe they need to split up the money they have on hand to hire another employee. It is legal for your boss to tell you that you must take a pay cut, just like your boss could offer you a raise.

Basically, the pay cut can't just be used as temporary revenge for not doing what was asked. It can't be done retroactively, either. It just has to be a shift in your employment for the foreseeable future.

The pay cut also can't be done based on things like race, sex, or age. If you think that your pay has been reduced illegally—as retaliation for a complaint you filed about discrimination, for example—then you need to know your rights in Michigan.

Source: CBS News, "Can my boss legally cut my pay?," Suzanne Lucas, accessed Dec. 18, 2015

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