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Changed from hourly wage to commission

(Jacksonville, Florida)


I was recently receiving unemployment benefits but after several months I found a full-time Job. I was working an hourly wage at over 40 hours a week. Then they were dropped to 30. I was then forced to transfer to another part of the company. I now work only on commission. I?m there almost 40 hours plus but barely make any actual hours at all. I have just passed my 90 day probation period. Is there anything I can do? I can't afford to work there but am afraid to quit. What actions can or should I take? Is there anyway I can get partial benefits?


You cannot get partial unemployment benefits for a reduction in wage, or salary, if you still work full time because you are not yet even partially unemployed.

The possibility of benefits would depend on whether the change from hourly to straight commission represents a substantial change in the terms and conditions of your employment.

A state usually looks at the actual change to pay and how long you have been working under the new conditions.

There comes a point ( and it's not really spelled out in laws ) that a voluntary quit due to something deemed by the state as a substantial change that continuing to work can become the problem, however.

The result of staying too long after a substantial change can results in a denial of benefits for quitting suitable because of the length of time a person has seemingly, accepted and worked under the new terms and conditions.

Yet, it's possible to find unemployment precedent decisions that will also deny benefits merely because a person didn't give the new pay structure a chance, or can't show their efforts to reason with the employer first when a change really is substantial .. or present proof of how substantial .. for instance pay stubs that compare the before and after.

You may want to investigate by reading Florida unemployment law, or precedents in other states that publish UI decisions.

Comments for Changed from hourly wage to commission

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Oct 16, 2009
Proof of trying to make the job work
by: Jason

Thank you for such a quick response. So even though I?m making barely any actual paid hours, the fact that I?m there for the full days makes me full-time? I?m going to endure this for at least a month. Then ask again if there is another position available as I did when they made me transfer. If once again they tell me nothing is open or available for me then would that be suitable proof of me trying to make my employment here work?

Thanks Again?


How long have you been on straight commission?

I would honestly like to tell you yes, but unemployment is not guaranteed.

You're thinking of quitting .. which means you have to be able to prove all these facts .. including your conversations with the employer .. at least I would want to be able to prove it .. based on what I know.

One word .. document.

Nov 24, 2009
Things have gotten worse
by: Jason

I have continue working in effort to see if things would change for the better but they have not. I am still unable to make the income I need to be stable. I have asked management for a change. In pay, position, and even location. On Oct. 29 my manager and I had a conversation. I told him I was in need of more and would be looking for a second job. He tells me I will not be needing to. We make and agreement. I would work his schedule for a period of two weeks. If it was not to my liking we would make it more fitting for me. I then worked from Nov. 1-15. That?s 15 days straight. I still only made part-time pay. The two weeks passed and when it came time for us to discuss our agreement he was "busy". The 12th was the end of the two weeks and it is now the 24th and still nothing has been done. I work almost seven days a week. An excess of 60 hours but am only making part time pay. I ask for days off and am told that they will see what they can do. Is it not illegal for them to make me work this much? Plus what about the fact that with the hours Im working and the pay I?m getting its equal to less then minimum wage. I need to get out of this situation but am worried with it being the holidays to be without any income. What can I do? I really would love to be rid of these job. What are my options? Thanks for any help in advance. Jason

Hi Jason,

Have you done like I said and documented? Did the employer put the agreement down in writing?

The danger for anyone in your situation is that quitting right away after a pay structure change opens you to the possibility of good cause not being found because you "didn't give it a chance.

On the other hand, staying too long exposes you to the risk of being seen as "accepting the new conditions of work".

But of course you have to make a decision.

Your case for benefits is showing the disparity in what you are earning now and how long it takes you to earn it vs. what you were earning and how long it took you to earn it.

This is what supports good cause for quitting a job attributable to the employment due to an unfavorable change in the conditions of employment.

The state should be interested in finding out if these conditions existed at the time you were hired .. would you have accepted the job.

Aug 08, 2010
changed from hourly waged to commission
by: Alden

Hi, I'm Steve. I'm from Mississippi and I'm going through the same thing that Jason is going through and it has really hurt me in taking care of my home. This is a former employer that I had worked for before. They knew how I worked before. They asked me to come back to be the shop foreman on hourly salary. I would have never taken the job if I knew that I was going to be put on commission, because I had experienced commission from the last time. After two years they took me off hourly and put me on commission saying that I wasn't doing enough work to match my hourly salary. I didn't know that I was being hired to do production. I was told that I was being hired to train the new guys and do a little work here and there. My salary went from $600.00 wkly to $250.00. What can I do? It's now going a year that I've been this way.

Thank you for your response
in advance,


I was following right along and then came the part that forced an out loud .. uh-oh.

"It's now going a year that I've been this way."

When an employer changes or goes back on the "conditions of hire" and you don't act at that time or soon after .. the consequence is that you have "accepted" the new terms or conditions.

This means .. it's too late now to complain about something that may have been a good reason to quit a year ago.

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