Can I collect unemployment if I refuse to sign a wage change form?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I collect unemployment if I refuse to sign a wage change form?

The company I work for currently wants to change the way they pay their employees. They’re currently coming up with a new system that will change hourly to commission and my question is if I refused to sign that paper and

refuse the change what that mean I will be terminated or does that mean that I will be quitting? Do I have any legal recourse?

Asked on October 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you refuse to sign, you will be quitting: refusing to work for your employer. The employer has the right to determine how employees are paid (and how much) and can change compensation amount and structure at will. The exception is that if the new structure will reasonably and foreseeably likely result in you earning significantly less than previously--as a rough rule of thumb, at least 1/3 less--the unemployment board/agency *may* consider that you were "constructively terminated," or effectively fired by the job, in the view of a reasonable person, by the job being taken away from you and made untenable. However, be warned that because the norm or default is that employers control and set, and may therefore change, compensation, it is often difficult to show that your job (e.g. compensation) changed so much and so definitely for the worse that you were effectively fired and can get unemloyment. You may be better off taking the offer and doing the best you can there while looking for new employment rather than counting on unemployment, especially since it is often easier to find a new job while still employed (fair or not, employers often hold it against you if terminated.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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