Should a salaried employee receive their bonus for the month before they resign or can it be forfeited?

I gave my 2weeks notice 4 days ago but still have not received my bonus from last month. They told me my bonus for last month was forfeited with my resignation. Considering it it almost the end of the next month I clearly should get the bonus from the month prior? Right?

Asked on August 29, 2011 Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is no general or one-size fits all answer: since companies are not obligated to pay bonuses at all, they are  free to set the terms and conditions of their bonus programs. That includes the conditions for eligibilty to be paid. A company may specify that if someone leaves work prior to receiving a bonus, he or she does not receive it--that is not illegal.

The issue is, what is the company's policy? First, if you have an employment agreement--or even just a bonus agrement--between yourself and the company, look to its terms; it will control. If there is no agrement, then what is the company's policy in this regard? While it can change its policy at will, it cannot do so retroactively, so whatever policy was in force when you resigned will apply. You can look to employee or job manuals, memos and emails and offer letters, and what the company has done in similar situations in the past (e.g. when other employees resigned) to see what their policy was.


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