CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As businesses start opening up and employees are going back to work, some are being asked to take a significant pay cut in order to keep their job.
“I think it’s offensive to just, out of the blue, for the company to say, ‘sorry, your pay just got cut by 25 percent,’ but that is literally what’s happening,” employment attorney Josh Van Kampen said.
Van Kampen said his office is receiving calls and emails from employees going back to work who are asked to take substantial pay cuts.
“You know, which raises the question of course, what’s legal? What can an employer do?” Van Kampen said.
Employees who have contracts with their employers should be in the clear, but Van Kampen said there is building pressure to renegotiate them.
“That doesn’t mean that they aren’t getting extreme pressure from the company, then all of a sudden you’re not, you’re labeled not a team player for example or ostracized,” Van Kampen said.
Most other employees don’t have that protection.
North Carolina is an employment-at-will state, so if employers want to change an employee’s wages, they can, but they have to follow specific rules.
“An employer is required to provide advanced written notification if they’re going to change your pay or your compensation," Van Kampen said. “So if you return back to work and all of a sudden you look at your paycheck and it’s been reduced and nobody ever gave you advanced written warning of that change under the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act, you are entitled to what your original pay was.”
Van Kampen said employees who aren’t given written notification of a change in pay, they are entitled to their full wages. If they were to sue their employers later, they could get double pay for liquidated damages.
Van Kampen said that if employees are staring down the barrel of a pay cut, they could also ask their employer to retroactively pay them back kind of like a loan situation.