Can an employer randomly deduct or lower an employee’s commission?

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Can an employer randomly deduct or lower an employee’s commission?

My husband works on cars and the shop gets a commission that is then split among all employees. He sometimes takes unpaid days off work and in the past that has not been a problem and he still gets the normal commission. This time he came back to work and was being given his paycheck he was told they didn’t give him the full commission because he took days off without pay. Can they do this? It’s never happened before.

Asked on November 7, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

They can only do this IF there was agreement from him as to the reduction. That agreement can be to this particular situation only, or it can be in the form of a written agreement or written employment policy/manual which he can be shown to have received (in which case, by continuing to work there after getting the policy statement, he is considered to have agreed to it) which covers all situations after receipt of the agreement or policy/manual. But in any event, there must be some agreement to the change made before it is implemented. While an employer can change or reduce pay or commissions, either permanently or in the case of certain events, such a change is only effective after notice of it to the employee. Pre-notice, the employee must be paid as per the wages or commissions then in effect when he did the work.
So legally, your husband could try to sue for any money he was denied, if he did not have prior notice of the policy or change. But whether it is worth suing his employer over this is a different story; and note that now that he knows the policy, they can hold him to it in the future.


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