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In the state of California do you need to be given notice before your hourly wages are decreased?

Pacoima, CA |

I was told my hourly wages would be decreased to the same as the other employees not doing a management job. When I explained to my boss that I do more management functions and should get paid more he decreased everyones pay rate without saying anything to them. I know they can decrease my wages but do they have to say anything first and if so what is the law citing for when I take it to the labor board? It was also decreased during the current pay period and not on the next like I was told.

Attorney Answers 3


An employer can change your rate of pay for any reason or no reason, but the employer cannot retroactively change it. Technically, when you arrive at work on Monday, the employer can tell you just before you clock in "oh, by the way, I have cut your pay by 25% effective today" and that would be acceptable. The employer cannot say "oh, by the way, you are earning 25% less for the last two weeks you worked. I decided to reduce your pay two weeks ago and I am telling you now."

The at will relationship allows for changes "on notice" to the other. That notice need not be any particular time period, by the at will change only occurs upon the giving of notice. Labor Code 2922.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

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what if they dont give any notice at all? Everyone was issued checks with no itemized deductions just a number of hours in the memo line and when they calculated it themselves is when they found out about the wage deduction.

Neil Pedersen

Neil Pedersen


The change cannot become effective until notice is given. In the situation you discuss, notice was not given until the paychecks were received. That means from that point on, the new pay would apply, but for the time before you received your paycheck up to the point you received it, the pay decrease is unlawful.


An employer in California ca change your pay rate as long as it is not below minimum wage and as long as they pay for overtime. If the pay was decreased on the current period but not for the time before the event was taken that would likely be ok legally but morally or from a public relations point of view. You should start looking for another job because this seems like a signal that the employer is experiencing financial difficulties. The may be hoping some people quit. They can reduce it again.
Good Luck.

Answering this question is not an agreement to represent the recipient or others. This answer is an opinion based upon the limited facts supplied and further research and analysis is required to render a full legal opinion. This opinion is that of the Law Offices of Dennis P. Wilson and is only premised upon California law and is not meant to be utilized in any other jurisdiction.

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David Andrew Mallen

David Andrew Mallen


I agree with Mr. Pederson and Ms. Spencer. I would also like to point out that some salaried "managers" who have their salaries cut may be eligible for overtime pay, depending on salary and job duties. For example, a manager who earns a fixed salary of less than twice the California minimum wage ($33,280.00 annually) must be paid overtime in California.


The prior attorney responses are correct. An employer can reduce an employee's pay for future services, but not for past services, and all the employer has to do is provide notice. If the employee continues working after receiving the notice, then the law considers that the employee has agreed to the new pay rate.

Your comment to Mr. Pedersen regarding your pay stubs indicates the employer has violated California Labor Code section 226, which specifies the information that must be in pay stubs:

226. (a) Every employer shall, semimonthly or at the time of each
payment of wages, furnish each of his or her employees, either as a
detachable part of the check, draft, or voucher paying the employee's
wages, or separately when wages are paid by personal check or cash,
an accurate itemized statement in writing showing (1) gross wages
earned, (2) total hours worked by the employee, except for any
employee whose compensation is solely based on a salary and who is
exempt from payment of overtime under subdivision (a) of Section 515
or any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission, (3) the
number of piece-rate units earned and any applicable piece rate if
the employee is paid on a piece-rate basis, (4) all deductions,
provided that all deductions made on written orders of the employee
may be aggregated and shown as one item, (5) net wages earned, (6)
the inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid, (7)
the name of the employee and the last four digits of his or her
social security number or an employee identification number other
than a social security number, (8) the name and address of the legal
entity that is the employer and, if the employer is a farm labor
contractor, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1682, the name
and address of the legal entity that secured the services of the
employer, and (9) all applicable hourly rates in effect during the
pay period and the corresponding number of hours worked at each
hourly rate by the employee. The deductions made from payment of
wages shall be recorded in ink or other indelible form, properly
dated, showing the month, day, and year, and a copy of the statement
and the record of the deductions shall be kept on file by the
employer for at least three years at the place of employment or at a
central location within the State of California.

Also, the wording of your post makes me question whether you are being paid as an exempt employee (not eligible for overtime) and, if so, whether that classification is correct. If you perform a mix of managerial and non-managerial duties, you may be entitled to overtime pay. This is very fact-specific so you will need to consult with an attorney or the Labor Commissioner and provide enough information for an evaluation.

To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is, and you can search for attorneys by location and practice area.

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is a sub-agency within the California Department of Industrial Relations. Some people refer to the DLSE as the Labor Commissioner. The DLSE enforces California's wage and hour laws, including those pertaining to overtime, rest and meal breaks, and more. The link for information on filing a wage claim is here:

I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.

*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

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