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washington state.. good cause question to receive unemployment

by steve h.
(oak harbor, WA)

When I started with my current company over 2 years ago. I received salary pay agreed by myself and my employer. In the last six months without notice my salary was reduced in half. Now I no longer receive salary pay, but was put on commission pay. when I received my first commission check it was less than minimum wage. I complained to my employer and was told if I wasn't happy about it quit. I don't want to quit, but I can't continue to work for less than minimum wage either. Would this be considered quitting for good cause?

Hi Steve,

It depends.

When an employer changes a pay structure, we are presented with a problem .. especially when salary is removed and replaced with straight commission.

The problem is that quitting must not only be with good cause, but you must be able to prove the good cause.

Let's say you were making 600 dollars salary a week. The employer changes it to 300 per week. A reduction in pay of 50 percent is considered good cause for quitting .. in almost every state unless the employer fights your claim by showing that you "accepted the change". If you let much time pass before quitting it will no longer be considered good cause.

In your situation, I know the employer might very well protest by saying the pay structure presented the opportunity for you to make more, but the reason you did not was because you
"chose not to perform".

But this type of pay structure change also requires you to prove it was detrimental, so it is wise to wait until you can prove that the change resulted in a loss of pay.

Again, you have this vaguely defined concept of how long you continue to accept this condition before it appears you acquiesced to the change.

The six months you mentioned is a concern, but I don't think it is an insurmountable point.

They may ask: Steve, why did you wait so long to quit.

I wanted to give the employer new pay structure a chance, although my worst fears that I would only be making "minimum wage" were founded.

Another point I'd like to make is that state's may have a "prevailing wage" act or wage laws that apply. If an employer is not in compliance with these laws. There is little doubt you will get unemployment.

My last piece of information is that paystubs make great documentary evidence.

I guess I have one more piece of information for your consideration:)

The pay structure change .. suggests hard times for the employer and a possible layoff looming .. at least to me.

I would be concerned about the point in time when you are laid off or finally decide you just can't make it anymore and decide to quit.

Will those "minimum wages" be in your base period which would have the effect of reducing your weekly benefits amount?


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