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Employer is going to take back pay increases from staff, need advice
A bit of background - my company offers people two types of pay. One is benefitted, where any associate can receive medical, dental, vision, paid time off, disability, etc. The other is non-benefitted, and associates under this pay type receive a $1.00/hr increase in pay, but receive none of the benefits stated above.
Two days ago, it came down from the company that the non-benefited folks were not supposed to receive any pay increases, either. Ever. This was not explained to them upon hire, and they signed no paperwork stating such to my knowledge.
So this week, all of my employees who are non-benefited (I say my, because the vast majority of the employees in the store are in my department) will receive pay cuts. On top of that, their next pay check will be reduced by the amount they were "over-paid" since their "mistaken" pay raises.
This is where I need the advice. My employees all received their pay increases based on merit, as they are all excellent employees. A number of these folks are key people. I could sort of deal with the pay cuts if the company can prove that they signed paperwork acknowledging the lack of pay raises. However, they worked X amount of time under the assumption that they would be getting paid Y amount. Can the company legally take this pay back, under the auspice of "we told them so?"
I assume the answer is no - the pay increases were approved by management (all pay increases are signed by the employee, the store's HR director, and the store manager), and they were under the assumption they would be working for that pay rate. In that case, what is my responsibility as their manager? I will obviously be advising each and every one of them to seek professional help with this, but should I be going to the labor board once this goes through?
Thanks for the help, folks. Most of the employees being hit by this are damn good people, and don't deserve this kind of treatment, especially right before Christmas.