When you're the other half of a two-income household, you look forward to a full paycheck each payday. If your employer suddenly bumps you from full-time to part-time, it not only comes as a surprise, but might also put you in a financial bind. Your employer probably did it because business is slow or she feels your job can be done in fewer hours. Though it would have been nice if she'd given you notice, unfortunately, in many cases, she doesn't have to.
Federal and State Law
Except in child-labor situations, federal law typically gives employers free reign to schedule employees however they see fit. So, unless an employment contract says your employer must tell you about the change in advance, he doesn’t have to give you notice. The state might have broader rules. For instance, if you work in North Carolina, your employer can switch you from full-time to part-time without notice, as long as you don’t lose wages or benefits that you already earned before the change. Your employer must also clearly put in writing what it takes to be a full-time and part-time employee and what benefits both groups qualify for.
Exempt workers normally work in executive, administrative and professional positions and must receive no less than $455 per week on a salary, fee or hourly basis. They don’t have to be paid overtime when they work extra hours. Federal and state law have specific duties that you must perform to qualify for exempt status. As long as you perform the required duties, your employer can switch you from exempt full-time to exempt part-time. In this case, your employer must pay you no less than $455 per week.
Leave of Absence
Under the Family Medical Leave Act, eligible employees can take unpaid job-protected leave. One of the qualifications is that you must work for a public agency or private sector employer that has 50 or more workers who worked at least 20 weeks in the present or last year. If you take leave under the FMLA, your employer can't bump you from full-time to part-time when you go back to work. You must be able to return to the same position or one of equal status. If you don't have coverage under the FMLA, you might under state law.
The state may say your employer must notify you beforehand if there’s an actual change in your pay rate, pay status or payday. For instance, this might happen if your employer raises or lowers your pay rate, switches you from salary to hourly, or changes your payday from weekly to biweekly. The state might say how much notice you should get, or it might not specify. For instance, if you work in Maryland, unless an employment contract says otherwise, your employer can reduce your pay rate at any time after telling you at least one full pay period in advance.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Questions and Answers About the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- North Carolina Department of Labor: Full-Time vs. Part-Time Employees
- Texas Workforce Commission: Part-Time/Full-Time Status
- Society for Human Resource Management: Legal & Regulatory: Exempt Salary Basis
- University of Mexico: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - Exempt Part-time Classifications
- U.S. Department of Labor: FMLA Frequently Asked Questions
- New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development: Selected NJ State Labor Laws and Regulations
- Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development: Fact Sheet on the Payment of Salary
- Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation: Change of Pay: In the Employer's Discretion
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
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