Is it legal for an employer to pay less than minimum wage as a “trial period” for the employee and is there a time limit?

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Is it legal for an employer to pay less than minimum wage as a “trial period” for the employee and is there a time limit?

I work in a family owned store in a small town and after I was hired I was told that I was going to have to be paid $7 per hour (less than minimum wage) for the first week I worked there as a “trial period”. This seemed kind of fishy. Then after three weeks I had to remind my boss that I was still making less than minimum wage. Is this legal? There’s no written contract or anything, and I was told after I was hired.

Asked on January 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, minimum wage is called "minimum wage" for a reason--it's the lowest wage that an employer may pay. There is no exception for a trial period--employers still need to pay minimum wage for trial or probationary periods. The few exceptions to paying minimum wage involve situations where the employee can count on something else--e.g. tips, or commissions--to make up the difference between what he/she is paid and minimum.


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