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Reducing Employee’s Hours

I have already spoken with my main office to make sure I can legally do this. I have an employee who has been with the company for several years. He has become extremely complacent, even after several conversations regarding his performance. I have another employee that goes above and beyond what is asked of him. This wonderful employee has become disheartened with his few hours and I don’t want to lose him. I want to give him more hours but that means taking away the hours from the first employee stated. I don’t want to upset anyone but I need to do what is right for the company and reward an amazing employee. I could use some advice on a conversation and/or letter to be given to both people. Please give any advice you can. Thanks.

Reducing an employee’s hours in order to give more hours to a more productive employee is legal. But, it’s still important to make sure you have concrete evidence to support your claim that one employee is more productive than the other.

Reason being: let’s say the first employee is an older man (40yrs+) and the second employee is a younger male, and you as the supervisor are younger, and the majority of your workers are younger. At first glance, it could be presumed that the older employee is being discriminated against based on his age, which is illegal under federal and most state laws. Having clear evidence to prove that the second employee performs better and that you’ve expressed your concerns with the first employee regarding his lack luster performance will help negate any discrimination claims.

Make sure the second employee is interested and willing to work more hours. Don’t make any promises but let him know you’ve noticed his hard work and don’t want to lose him. Ask him to keep the conversation private. You don’t want word to get out that he’s getting more hours before you have a chance to talk to the employee being affected.

Talk to the first employee privately and directly. Remind him of your past discussions specifically your dissatisfaction with his performance. Let him know of any most recent examples of his poor performance.

Now, if you know the employee is unhappy with his job then you can try to make it sound like the reduction in hours is beneficial to him. For example, “I noticed that you haven’t been happy coming to work. Let’s reduce your hours so you can have time to find a position that satisfies you.” This approach only works if the employee is in fact unhappy with his job; otherwise, if he actually does like his job then you may look manipulative and cause the employee to resent you.

Or, directly inform him that at this time you’ve decided to reduce his hours due to his substandard work. Consider saying: “I appreciate the work you’ve done and will continue to do here but we’ve had multiple conversations about your performance and it’s still not at the level I’d like it to be. I think it’s best for you to focus on only the projects that you excel in. Thus, you’re hours are being reduced to part time.”

Also, consider what other benefits, if any, may be affected by the employee’s reduction in hours. Will he still be eligible for healthcare, vacation, sick time, retirement plan etc… Of course, reducing his hours to just enough for him to still qualify for these benefits will decrease any anger or resentment he may feel.

Whether a written letter is needed for either employee depends on the details of the situation (i.e. is there even the slightest potential for presumed discrimination). If so, you may want to give him a letter that reiterates what was said during the meeting. Be concise and direct. Don’t go in to the details discussed in the meeting. Include the effective date of the schedule change.

Further, do you normally provide letters for reduction in hours (you may want to check with your main office on this). It’s advisable to provide written letters to employees whenever any aspects of their employment are being changed. A few states actually mandate employers to provide written notification to employees when pay or hours are changed.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at 1:43 pm and is filed under
Workplace Management.
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