I was originally hired for a position that requires me to be in office, working with clients already retained by my company to ensure their contract deliverables are on track. Three months after hire, I was asked to also start working to bring on new clients as well (without commission), something that was not part of my original job description. What happens when the job description and or responsibilities are changed without a change in wage?
The answer may depend on whether you have an employment contract with your employer. An employment contract will define essential terms of the employment relationship. It will typically cover all aspects of the position, including compensation, duties and performance expectations. For more information on an employment contract, take a look a Drafting Employment Documents for California Employers published by Continuing Education of the Bar.
The next important factor to consider is the job description itself. The Job Description Handbook published by Nolo Press discusses the importance of terminology when drafting a job description. It is typically recommended that employers use a catch-all phrase that can be used later to add functions to a job. By adding “other projects and responsibilities may be added at the manager’s discretion” or “special projects as required” to a job description, the employer has some flexibility to deal with ever-changing work environments. Commonly, you will see the phrase “other duties as assigned” in a position description, and unfortunately adding more responsibilities does not always equate to higher earnings. Employers most often use these generic phrases to add employee responsibilities, but they can also be used to decrease them as well.
If these extra duties are causing you to work more than 40 hours a week or work other overtime with no additional compensation, the employer may be violating California wage and hour laws. California Labor Code § 510 regulates daily and weekly overtime for all employees. For more information on wage and hour laws, see California Wage and Hour Law and Litigation published by CEB.
If you’re unhappy with your current situation it may be time to find another employment opportunity. California Labor Code § 2922 discusses that all employees are presumed to be employed at-will unless your employment contract states otherwise. At-will status of the employee allows the employer to terminate the employment relationship for no cause (as long as it is a legal firing), and, alternatively, the employee is free to resign without cause.
The books mentioned in this article are available at the law library for more research; however, since employment law can be tricky, if you are concerned, you may want to consider hiring an attorney who specializes in employment law matters.
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