Can my employer drop me from full-time to part-time status and remove my benefits without producing a written policy?

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Can my employer drop me from full-time to part-time status and remove my benefits without producing a written policy?

I work as an at-will employee for a non-union company. Recently, the HR manager sent an email to various employees stating that if they didn’t work 77 hours in any given two-week pay period during one full calendar year for 5 or more times that they would be dropped from full-time to part-time status and have all benefits removed (insurance, paid holidays, and personal time off accrued). The email mentions the employee handbook which has no written statement in it nor can the company produce any written statement. Is this legal? Can they do this?

Asked on June 23, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

They can definitely do this.

Bear in mind that no company needs to provide benefits at all: that is, it does not need to provide insurance; it doesn't need to provide paid holidays; and nor does it need to allow the accrual of paid personal time. It is purely voluntary on the company's part, and therefore, since it is voluntary, it is up to the company to determine who is eligible, under what criteria, for any benefits it chooses to provide. Thus, the company can set a benchmark or threshold of 77 hours a week to get benefits, subject only to any employment contracts (which you say you do not have) and not discriminating in its decision making against a protected category (e.g. against a race, religion, age over 40, disability status, or sex).

Note thought that while the company can stop you from accruing paid time off in the future, if you don't meet any new criteria, it can't take away already-accrued time; it can make changes going forward to policies, but can't take away what's already been given or earned.


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