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Can your employer reduce your hourly rate?

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  • Dec 20th, 2007 7:48 pm
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Sr. Member
Apr 26, 2004
614 posts
2 upvotes

Can your employer reduce your hourly rate?

I work for a construction company and we have a few guys as apprentices.

Recently at least two of them completed another year of the apprenticeship.

One guy went up to a 2nd year and the other went up to a 4th year.

Both were given the appropriate hourly increase as set out by the apprenticeship board.

Example: a 4th year is to have an hourly wage at 70% of a journeyman.

Here's the thing, after 1 or 2 pay periods the boss has decided to DECREASE the hourly rates for these guys.

The average journeyman is getting $26/hr. The apprentices were originally told this.

Now the boss has decided to tell them the average rate is at $24 which it's not. He's only saying this because a few months ago he hired 2 guys at that rate but they've both since quit.

Well let me correct that...........he hasn't told them. He's just gone ahead and decreased their hourly rate. When the lady in payroll asked if he has notified them he said "if they catch it I'm sure they'll call me to ask about it".


For the 4th year apprentice, he's looking at a $1.40/hr. decrease.

Can the company do this?
18 replies
Deal Addict
Apr 2, 2007
1382 posts
43 upvotes
Toronto
What province are you in?
If you are in Ontario check with the Labour Board.
Reduction prohibited

(3) No employer shall reduce the rate of pay of an employee in order to comply with subsection (1). 2000, c. 41, s. 42 (3).
http://www.labourrelations.org/LabourLa ... tario.html

The construction industry may or may not apply.. better to check with the Labour board.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 26, 2004
614 posts
2 upvotes
Ya, we're in Ontario.

I know with the construction industry there are a few different rules but that's more along the lines of EI and being laid off.

This decrease in hourly rate seems really unfair to the guys.
Member
User avatar
Dec 11, 2006
227 posts
2 upvotes
Are they in a union?

I know that my boyfriend is an Electrical Apprentice right now at level 3.

They have the same sort of pay breakdown (percentages of the Journeyman wage), however, he's unionized so if there was any issue like what you're referring to the union would give the company hell.

For instance, right now the unionized wage for Jouneyman Electrians in our area is (I think) $38/hour. None of the unionized companies are allowed to go lower than that.
my mood today: :|
Deal Fanatic
Jan 16, 2003
6210 posts
79 upvotes
Raimiette wrote:
Dec 19th, 2007 12:26 pm
For instance, right now the unionized wage for Jouneyman Electrians in our area is (I think) $38/hour. None of the unionized companies are allowed to go lower than that.
38$/hour? That's ridiculous! :evil:
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 26, 2004
614 posts
2 upvotes
Raimiette wrote:
Dec 19th, 2007 12:26 pm
Are they in a union?

I know that my boyfriend is an Electrical Apprentice right now at level 3.

They have the same sort of pay breakdown (percentages of the Journeyman wage), however, he's unionized so if there was any issue like what you're referring to the union would give the company hell.

For instance, right now the unionized wage for Jouneyman Electrians in our area is (I think) $38/hour. None of the unionized companies are allowed to go lower than that.

We're electrical too but Non-Union so we don't have that power house behind us.


Gotta love those union rates. I've got a friend at Toronto Hydro. Started there with no knowledge of electrical (other than it hurt if zapped) and was given a rate of just over $26/hr. He's been there about 1 1/2 years not and is at about $30/hr. now with another increase on it's way!
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 26, 2004
614 posts
2 upvotes
mart242 wrote:
Dec 19th, 2007 1:09 pm
38$/hour? That's ridiculous! :evil:

Some people would agree but unions always pay more no matter what the trade.

One thing to keep in mind, if an electrician screws up on the job they could loose their life or cause a fire putting others at risk.

If a plumber screws up he gets a little wet and might have some water damage.

However, both trades make about the same rate per hour. Doesn't seem right for the extra risk.
Sr. Member
Apr 24, 2006
924 posts
3 upvotes
Sounds like the boss is trying to get rid of them.
Member
User avatar
Dec 11, 2006
227 posts
2 upvotes
mart242 wrote:
Dec 19th, 2007 1:09 pm
38$/hour? That's ridiculous! :evil:
Yes, it's a lot but my boyfriend does high voltage industrial stuff so I think it's worth it considering that.

Also, I agree with this:
irish80ca wrote:
Dec 19th, 2007 1:26 pm
Some people would agree but unions always pay more no matter what the trade.

One thing to keep in mind, if an electrician screws up on the job they could loose their life or cause a fire putting others at risk.

If a plumber screws up he gets a little wet and might have some water damage.

However, both trades make about the same rate per hour. Doesn't seem right for the extra risk.
my mood today: :|
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 25, 2003
8809 posts
112 upvotes
irish80ca wrote:
Dec 19th, 2007 1:26 pm
Some people would agree but unions always pay more no matter what the trade.

One thing to keep in mind, if an electrician screws up on the job they could loose their life or cause a fire putting others at risk.

If a plumber screws up he gets a little wet and might have some water damage.

However, both trades make about the same rate per hour. Doesn't seem right for the extra risk.
What about steam and gas fitters? They're plumbers too.. I don't like this rivalry among tradesmen. I used to work with them a lot and respected our fitters/plumbers as much as your electrical/hvac guys. How's a gas leak, or a scaling high pressure steam leak not potentially deadly?...

All seriousness aside, them fitters seem to do a lot more grunt work than you electricians ;) I've gained a lot of respect for 'plumbers' and will never call them as such anymore. They're fitters to me!
Jr. Member
May 14, 2007
174 posts
You can reduce rates pro-actively unless they are contracted. It is the same as everything else, really, you make a deal and stick to it. You can not enter into a contact then decide change your mind after its inception without a mutual agreement or agreement to cancel and renew contract.

Same with unions, it all depends on the contracts. Most nurses (in BC's union anyway) received a rate cut recenlty; that was a take it or leave it scenario.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 26, 2004
614 posts
2 upvotes
B0000rt wrote:
Dec 19th, 2007 1:53 pm
What about steam and gas fitters? They're plumbers too.. I don't like this rivalry among tradesmen. I used to work with them a lot and respected our fitters/plumbers as much as your electrical/hvac guys. How's a gas leak, or a scaling high pressure steam leak not potentially deadly?...

All seriousness aside, them fitters seem to do a lot more grunt work than you electricians ;) I've gained a lot of respect for 'plumbers' and will never call them as such anymore. They're fitters to me!
Sorry, didn't mean to come across as knocking other trades. I was thinking of a "general" plumber that might deal with residential projects, etc. Not the guys that deal with all that gas and high pressure stuff.

I'm not saying they're not worth paying $25/hr either. I'm saying, the higher the risk and responsibility, the higher the pay should be.
With electrical, the risk is still high no matter if it's a home or a warehouse. All it takes is 1 spark to start a deadly fire.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.... has anyone else ever come across this pay reduction issue?

I know there's a few things that can happen to ALLOW it. If you get demoted or economic times makes it tough to run a business on current wages then a pay decrease or cut hours are legal but that's NOT the case here.

Needless to say, I personally I'm handing in my notice soon. 5 years with this company and now the new boss has destroyed it in less than 6 months.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 26, 2004
614 posts
2 upvotes
heymike wrote:
Dec 19th, 2007 2:39 pm
You can reduce rates pro-actively unless they are contracted. It is the same as everything else, really, you make a deal and stick to it. You can not enter into a contact then decide change your mind after its inception without a mutual agreement or agreement to cancel and renew contract.

Same with unions, it all depends on the contracts. Most nurses (in BC's union anyway) received a rate cut recenlty; that was a take it or leave it scenario.
Heymike, not sure if I'm following you correctly. Are you saying that once the employee and the owner agreed on a rate the onwer can't reduce it if he changes his mind later unless both parties agree?

The thing that really rubs me the wrong way is the fact that the owner doesn't have the decency to even tell the guys what to expect on trheir next cheque. He's just doing it and waiting to see if they notice the decrease.
Deal Addict
Sep 1, 2005
2469 posts
2 upvotes
I would argue that once the guys had been paid at their new rate, that is the new accepted rate, write a letter demanding your new pay and any back pay. that and look for a new job, but don't quit, write a letter explaining what the pay is and until you receive it in writing you'll be at home.

Some companies will try to screw people, but trades are not like fast food staff, theres a value in experience and having to bring a new guy upto speed would cost more then paying them.
Deal Addict
Apr 2, 2007
1382 posts
43 upvotes
Toronto
irish80ca wrote:
Dec 19th, 2007 1:26 pm
One thing to keep in mind, if an electrician screws up on the job they could loose their life or cause a fire putting others at risk.
A good electrician knows not to play with LIVE wires or doesn't screw up.
Electrician take more precautions and make sure they are grounded properly before doing any work on downed power lines.

The ones who get zapped are new to the job or are careless.
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