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Employers must give notice on pay changes


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POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Question: I received a paycheck from my employer, and on the paycheck it says, "Important note. Your hourly rate has been changed from $7.25 to $7." Can they do this?

Answer: You didn't give us any details or a contact number, so we don't know what the circumstances are.

There are two main factors in your case: advance notification and whether you receive tips.

If that note you received pertains to future work, then the decrease in pay is allowable, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. (We're assuming you are not a member of a labor union.)

Section 388-7(2) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes says an employer shall "notify each employee in writing or through a posted notice maintained in a place accessible to employees of any changes in the arrangements specified" about the rate of pay, or the day, hour or place of payment.

That means, "Legally, (employers) have to tell them just before they do it," said Ryan Markham, spokesman for the Labor Department.

The department recommends that employers give employees at least a pay period's notice, but if notice is given only the day before, "it's sufficient," he said.

However, the change in pay can't be made for work already completed, Markham said. "If (an employee) worked 40 hours the previous week, they can't say, 'Oh, by the way, you were working only for this much (pay).'"

The other factor in your case revolves around Hawaii's minimum wage, which is $7.25.

"Employers can pay $7 if the employees are receiving tips," Markham said.

To file a complaint or to get more information, call the Labor Department's Wage Standards Division, 586-8777.

Q: Where can I donate used, but still good, cell phones?

A: You have various options, many listed on the city Department of Environmental Services' Web site: envhonolulu.org/solid_waste/archive/cell_phone_recycling.htm.

Among them:

» Special Olympics Hawaii—sohawaii.onlinedonationcenter.com. Check the Web site for the closest drop-off location or to print a free shipping label; or call (800) 627-2022, ext. 270. Proceeds benefit people with intellectual disabilities.

» Sprint Project Connect—www.sprint.com/responsibiliity/communities_across/project_connect.html. Pick up a free, postage-paid envelope at any Sprint-owned store to send in your phone. Proceeds help fund free Internet safety resources.

To recycle unusable cell phones or rechargeable batteries (turned into other types of materials), donate to Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp.'s Call2recycle program. Drop-off locations include Home Depot on Alakawa Street and RadioShack in Honolulu, Salt Lake and Aiea. See www.call2recycle.org for information.


Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).