Is it legal to not pay an employee for mandatory volunteer time?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal to not pay an employee for mandatory volunteer time?

Can my employer reduce my by $8.00 an hour for no reason? I was told that I was making too much money and that he needed to add to his practice. So in order to do so, the money needed to come from somewhere therefore he decided to take away from me to do so. Is that legal? Also, my employer is threatening my job if I do not volunteer my time on weekends to promote his business. He says the time is not to be paid but if we do not volunteer our jobs will be on the line. The time requested for volunteering is substantial, about 4-7 hours. Not only is he telling us that we have to volunteer our time but he is also making us run four 5k’s or 10k’s. These are also on a volunteer status but if we do not run, our jobs are also on the line for this as well. We are a dental office.

Asked on March 10, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

 If you were being paid for volunter work and participation in runs, your employer could force you to do it, as it is they who determine what is and is not part of your job. However, what your employer cannot do is make you volunteer your time; if you are required to do work you must be paid for it. Not paying you for such time is against the law.
As for your salary decrease, that is legal. As an "at will" employee, your employer cans set the terms and conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit or deems necessary. This includes decreasing an employees hourly rate for any reason or no reason at all. This above holds true so long as such treatment does not constitute some form of legal discrimination or violate a union agreement or employment contract.
What you should do now is to consult directly with a local employment law attorney and/or file a complaint with your state's department of labor.

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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