Can my employer change me from salary to hourly the day I’m receiving my paycheck?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my employer change me from salary to hourly the day I’m receiving my paycheck?

Yesterday, when I walked into the office my boss informed me that I would be receiving my paycheck for the pay period for the last 2 weeks but it would be based off a lower hourly rate and no longer based off my salary base. Can she change my pay for time I’ve already worked?

Also, I believe I was an exempt employee because I did not receive any overtime. So since I was supposedly exempt, I would choose to work through my lunch or eat while working. If she randomly decided I was hourly for that pay period, then I went 10 work days without a meal or rest period. I believe that would put them at fault since employers are supposed to ensure that their employees take a rest period? I believe the day before payday she decided she wanted to make me hourly, basing my time worked off the office’s new clocking system.

Asked on June 5, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The short answer is, your employer cannot retroactively change your pay--either the rate or how it was structured--AFTER you already did the work. Any work you did must be compensated at the then-in-effect rate and structure. If your employer does make a retroactive change, you could contact the labor department to file a complaint (they may be able to help you) and/or sue for any money you should have been paid, but were not.
Going forward, from the moment you are notified of a change onward, they can change your rate and structure.

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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