Raymond from Nevada emailed us, asking “I’m a student at UNLV and work part-time tutoring math. I was promised $10 an hour, but when I got my first check, I’m only getting paid $8 an hour now. When I asked what’s up, I was told that I can earn “up to” $10 an hour but all tutors start at $8. My advisory told me there must have been a miscommunication and said they like me and said a raise could come next fall, but I was counting on that $10 an hour now. Is there anything I can do?”
Thank you Raymond for writing in and I’m sorry you are faced with this wage disagreement issue. Based on the content of your email, it appears there was only a verbal discussion about the hourly wage you were to receive. Unfortunately, if you and your employer did not have a written agreement, at this stage there is really little you can do. Even if you wrote on your job application your desired hourly rate was to be $10, this unfortunately does not translate to an agree upon hourly rate.
Only an offer letter or employment agreement signed by you and your employer can provide you with clarity and legal recourse. Your employer is required to provide you with an employment agreement stating your employment title and agreed upon compensation.
If your employer did not provide this information, you may be in a position to renegotiate your rate, maybe come to a compromise of 8.50 or 9 dollars an hour, stating to the employer that prior to your start date, they did not fulfill the required employment agreement standards required for you to make an informed decision regarding their offer.
I would highly recommend you look through any past emails or written communications between you and your employer and see if there is any reference to the rate you were led to believe. If you can find any written email or paperwork that even suggests the 10 dollar per hour rate, this could help you get the rate you were promised.
Now a point of caution here, even though you might be right to demand the agree upon rate, if there is no written agreement, you also need to take into consideration the relationship with this employer and your future of working with them. Is this a simple error, in most cases it is… but could the employer be that fixed on wages that they resend or knowingly mislead employees, it’s possible but really bad businesses practices on their end.
So here’s my suggestion, look for any written communications, and see if there is something in writing you can bring to their attention to revise your current wage situation. Keep it professional, there’s no need to accuses anyone of wrongdoing, just an error that needs to be fixed.
Now if you cannot find any written reference to the wage you were expecting, I would recommend you directly speak to the individual you had the $10 an hour conversation with and see if you can come to some agreement, like I mentioned a compromise of a wage somewhere in the middle.
One recommendation I will also suggest for the future. Don’t always assume verbal discussions between you and an employer is accurate. This miscommunication happens often for exactly the position you are in right now, a part-time, temporary type of employee.
After you have a conversation with a potential employer or anyone for that matter that wants you to work for a wage or even a fixed price; you should always email that person or business, summarize what was talked about, and be specific. After you summarize your conversation, in the email you send them, ask them to Please Confirm your summary of the conversation by replying to your email and stating the two of you are in agreement. This simple act of a conformation email can serve as an employment contract and eliminates any confusion.