Can my employer reduce my pay while I’m on maternity leave?

As an expectant mother, you have plenty of joy and concerns. On one hand, you have a baby on the way. And on the other hand, you are concerned about your job. Will your employer cut your pay? Worse still, will they fire you?

Both state and federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on their age, gender, race and sexual orientation among other protected characteristics. In other words, your employer cannot change your duties, shifts and working hours because of these characteristics. Likewise, they cannot discriminate against or harass you for any reason whatsoever. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some employees to be treated differently when they are pregnant.

Understanding the concept of pay cuts

Basically, a pay cut is a reduction in an employee’s salary or hourly pay. An employer can resort to this practice to avoid layoffs or save money during difficult times. An employer can also cut your pay when your responsibilities are reduced. A pay cut can be permanent or temporary.

Pay cuts and employee protections

A pay cut cannot be subjective. If an employer does this, they can be deemed to have discriminated against you and, thus, breached the employment contract. Also, a pay cut cannot be based on discriminatory grounds on the protected status of the employee in question. Besides using pregnancy as the basis for reducing your pay, here are other instances when pay cuts can be deemed illegal under New York and federal laws:

  • When the employer does not issue notice before effecting the pay cut
  • When you take an approved family and medical leave
  • When the pay cut is based on a discriminatory motive against your protected class
  • When the cut drops below the minimum wage
  • When the employment contract specifies your pay and hours

Every employee hopes for a regular pay rise. If the employer reduces your pay, however, you might have questions. Find out how you can protect your rights if your employer cuts your pay because you are pregnant.

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