Due to the pandemic my salary was cut and I was still working the 5 days as opposed to the 4 days which my cut salary would equate. When I brought it to management’s attention about working the 5 days I was told that I came to work at my own discretion and I would neither be compensated for the days which I worked or given back the days. Is this right and can I get back my days or be compensated?

During the pandemic, many businesses instituted across the board cuts to the salaries they paid mostly with consent from employees as required. What is important to note though is that, in the case of salary cuts, while the payment the salaried employee receives for the work he/she does is reduced, the number of days he/she is expected to work are not.  Perhaps the best-known local example of a salary cut is that experienced by the public servants in the early 1990’s. 

Let us also make clear the distinction between a salary and a wage. A salary is a regular payment which, though paid monthly, is often expressed as an annual amount. For example, a person who earns $ 60,000 per annum (year), when paid monthly, receives $ 5,000.00.  A person whose contract states that he/she will receive $3,000 per month, earns $36,000 per annum. A wage, on the other hand, is typically paid on a daily or weekly basis and represents payment for the number of hours worked during the period. A regular work week locally is 40 hours. A person who receives a wage of $340 per week, is being paid $68 per day for 8 hours’ work or $8.50 per hour for 40 hours’ work.

With the information which has been provided, and not knowing how the initiative was rolled out at your workplace we cannot comment more definitively on what was said in your specific instance, except to say that your attendance at work is at your own discretion only if you can determine your own hours and times of work. If you are attending work as rostered or as required by your contract of employment, then you are not attending work at your discretion. As a salaried employee you would not be entitled to compensation for the days which you worked (as this would defeat the purpose the cuts were instituted in the first place) and would not be entitled to days back.

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