Can an employer take away a benefit of paid sick time without notifying the employee?

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Can an employer take away a benefit of paid sick time without notifying the employee?

I have worked for a school district for 16 years. Strong emphasis is put on the paraprofessionals to ride the buses with classified students before and after school. There are only 2-3 paraprofessionals who do not ride the buses out of 19 We get paid our hourly rate for time riding buses. For the past 8 years if I was out sick I would be paid for the time out from the school day 7 hours plus the 2-3 hours of bus duty. This school year, without notifying

paraprofessionals of a new policy, the school district took away paid sick time for the bus run hours worked on a regular weekly basis if a paraprofessional was sick or needed a personal day off. Can the school district take away a benefit that was provided for many years years before I started working additional hours on buses without ever notifying the paraprofessionals verbally or in writing? Paraprofessionals are non-union.

Asked on November 3, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The benefit may be taken away unless it was enshrined in or protected by a contract--when there is no contract, employers determine pay, benefits, etc. HOWEVER, the change may only be made prospectively, or going forward: that is, from the moment it was announced forward. Changes may not be made retroactively: that is, they cannot take away pay or a benefit which you earned or used after the fact. So if not paid for sick time you properly applied for under the previoulsy existing policy, where you had not been made aware of the change before applying for the payment, you could sue for the money; however, whether as a practical matter, it is worth suing for the amount of money in question (the amount of pay you missed) is a different story. Now that you know of the policy, you can definitely be held to it going forward.


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