Does making a salaried employee work outside of hours agreed to in a contract constitute a beach?

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Does making a salaried employee work outside of hours agreed to in a contract constitute a beach?

In the employment contract, hours were
agreed to and written into the contract
to be 745-1215 then 145-6. The
employee is now scheduled to work at
650 and often expected to work past
630 or 7. There was no modification to
the hours. There is no stipulation in
the contract that the employee may be
required to work outside of scheduled
hours. Does this qualify as a material
beach of the contract?

Asked on February 26, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If it was an enforceable employment contract, requiring the employee to work significantly more hours may well be a material breach entitling him or her to sue for compensation due to the breach (or allowing him or her to treat the contract as terminated). The key issue is: is it an enforceable contract. To be enforceable, not only must its terms be definite and unequivocal, and both employer and employee must have signaled their agreement to it, but it must be for a definite time or period (e.g, a one-year, two-year, etc. agreement). A "contract" which does actually lock in the terms of employment for a definite time is not actually enforceable, since without defining a period during which the terms may not be changed, they can be changed at any time.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If it was an enforceable employment contract, requiring the employee to work significantly more hours may well be a material breach entitling him or her to sue for compensation due to the breach (or allowing him or her to treat the contract as terminated). The key issue is: is it an enforceable contract. To be enforceable, not only must its terms be definite and unequivocal, and both employer and employee must have signaled their agreement to it, but it must be for a definite time or period (e.g, a one-year, two-year, etc. agreement). A "contract" which does actually lock in the terms of employment for a definite time is not actually enforceable, since without defining a period during which the terms may not be changed, they can be changed at any time.


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