Is it legal for an employer to take piece rate money earned by an employee to pay hourly workers that aren’t on piece rate?

Is it common for and employer to hire
at one wage then choose to put you on
‘bonus’piece rate thereby slashing
your wage lower than what you started
out on?

Asked on June 8, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

First, whether it is "common" or not for an employer to reduce your wage below starting, it is legal to do so, unless you have a written employment contract guarantying you a certain wage. If you do, you can enforce the terms of the contract; but if you don't, your employer can change or reduce your pay at will. (This is part of "employment at will.")
Second, they cannot take away money you have already earned--doing so would be  breach of contract, or violation of the agreement, even if only an oral or unwritten one, pursuant or according to which you did the work in exhange for pay; if you did the work, they therefore must pay you for it as agreed. But they can reduce your pay going forward (for work not yet done) to save money, including to free up money to pay other workers.

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