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Can we decrease the number of hours employees work?

Question: Can we decrease the number of hours employees work?

Answer from Daniel, SHRM-SCP: Yes. Absent an employment contract or other legally binding agreement, you can reduce an employee’s work hours—there is no law that prevents this. Hours are typically reduced for reasons such as a decrease in business needs, the company's productivity has decreased, job restructuring, or reorganization.

It's important, however, to make scheduling decisions in a manner that is consistent with legitimate business needs and to ensure that you're being consistent in how you treat employees. Reducing an employee's work schedule can expose you to legal claims if it is perceived to be based on an unlawful reason such as discrimination or retaliation. And of course, there’s also the risk that the affected employee may decide to look for work elsewhere.

This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

Daniel has over 12 years of experience in the communications, government relations, political advocacy, and customer service fields. He has a BS in Journalism and Communications. He has run a small business of his own and sat on the Board of Directors of several local non-profits. In his free time he enjoys cooking, hiking, camping, and home brewing.

Legal Disclaimer: On-Time Payroll (OTP) is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this post should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. OTP cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.


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