Most employees in the Unites States are employees-at-will. This means that they do not have an employment contract and can be terminated for any reason not protected by law. Employee-at-will employees may also see changes to their employment conditions, sometimes without notice. Is that legal? Can an employer make changes without providing notice?
Many employees expect transparency and communication from their employer. A reasonable assumption. But, your employer can make several changes to your job or work conditions without telling you. As long as these changes do not violate an employment contract or labor laws, your employer is free to make changes. Here we provide some of the common changes employers might implement without notifying employees.
Salary and Compensation
There is no federal law that requires an employer to give advanced notice of a pay reduction. While most states are passing laws requiring notice in a change of pay rate, there are still 17 states that do not require any notice. If you live in any of these following states, you’re out of luck: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming. If you live in any other state and your wages were reduced without notice, contact an employment attorney.
Job Roles and Responsibilities
If you find yourself being asked to do something you normally would not have done in the past, it is legal. Employers can assign new tasks or change an employee’s job duties without giving notice as long as there is not an employment contract stating otherwise.
Employee Benefits and Perks
Many employees choose to work for a company because of the available benefits and perks. Employers have the right to amend or remove certain benefits such as company provided meals, transportation, gym memberships, free coffee, etc. without prior notice. However, if your employer removed health insurance or 401k plan without notice, you may have rights. Speak with an employment attorney.
Working Hours and Schedules
Changing an employee’s hours or schedule can definitely impact work-life balance and personal commitments. However, employers can modify work hours, shift patterns, or days off without prior notice, as long as the total hours worked and any legal requirements are met.
Remote Work Policies
Many employees enjoyed the option of working from home during the COVID pandemic. However, employers are now requiring that employees return to work in the office. Changes to remote work policies, such as the introduction of hybrid work models or restrictions on remote work, may be implemented silently. Unfortunately, this may affect many employees’ work arrangements and lifestyle choices.
Employers can change an employee’s workplace location without notice. Most employers provide some notice as it takes time to move to a new office space, but technically they do not have to provide any notice if you do not have an employment contract.
Office Equipment and Software
Employers can modify or upgrade equipment and software without notice to employees. While this may not be a smart business decision as it can affect productivity, employers are allowed to change without prior notice.
If you find yourself in a situation where your employer is making changes without notice, speak to them and share your thoughts. While it’s important for employers to communicate any changes and provide an explanation whenever possible, there may be an underlying reason why notice was not provided. If not, and you fear that it may happen again, it may be time to seek a new employer.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. It provides general information and is not intended and should not be construed as professional advice. The author is not your attorney, accountant, financial planner or any other professional and no professional-client relationship is created. We do not represent that the information provided is accurate or up-to-date as laws and regulations are always changing. If you have an issue that requires professional help, you should contact the appropriate professional to help you on your specific set of facts. Please read the Terms and Conditions for additional information.