Ask HR: Is This Demotion Allowed?
Ask HR: Is This Demotion Allowed?

Ask HR: Is This Demotion Allowed?

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, one of your employees stumps you with a question you haven’t heard before. The pros at the HR Support Center really have heard it all—at least, until tomorrow.

Here is a recent question from a real HR professional, and the expert advice given by HR On-Demand, one of the features available to HR Support Center subscribers.

Question: A recently hired employee has the skill set to perform most but not all of the duties he was hired to do. Can we demote him to a different position and reduce his compensation?

Answer: Yes. As long as the employee does not have a written employment contract guaranteeing him a certain position or rate of pay, you may reduce his pay and transfer him to a position for which you feel he is better qualified.

Before taking this step, you should consider the pros and cons of changing his role. It is common for an employee to not entirely meet the ideal outlined in the job description. Remember that you put time and money into hiring him for that position and he accepted your offer for this particular title and rate of pay. With that in mind, are the skills he’s missing something he can learn through training? Is a new hire likely to have all the skills you’re looking for? Would the demotion hurt overall employee morale? If his role is changed, would he likely leave the company, and, if so, would the company suffer an appreciable loss?

However you answer these questions, we recommend that you document the employee’s substandard performance, skill gaps, knowledge deficits and any measures you took to address these matters. If you do decide to transfer him, this documentation may prove helpful if you are ever challenged on the decision.

Should you choose to change his role, you should meet with the employee, along with a third-party witness, to explain the changes and provide him with a new offer letter delineating the new terms of employment. Be sure to mention any previous coaching and any warnings the employee received. While not required, advance notice of a decrease in pay would help you to maintain a good rapport with the employee. Calling the move a “transfer” instead of a “demotion” might help as well.

As with any employment matter, you should apply your policies consistently. If you have any other under-performing employees in similar positions, you should take the same course with them. Not doing so could open you up to charges of discrimination or retaliation.

Answered by HR Pro Sarah, who has extensive HR experience in the legal, software, security and property preservation industries. Sarah has a Business Communications degree from Villa Julie College (now Stevenson University) and a master’s certificate in Human Resources Management and a Strategic Organizational Leadership certification from Villa Nova University. Sarah is also a member of the National Society of Human Resources Management and has managed the HR function for small startup companies to mid-sized/large organizations.

_This Q&A content is taken straight from the experts at HR Support Center. Click here to learn more about HR Support Center and HR On-Demand; we’d also love the chance to explain in person

More to Discover

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Tips to Manage Employee Leave Scenarios

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Tips to Manage Employee Leave Scenarios

Coronavirus Response Act On March 18 the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was enacted to help individuals, families and businesses. The legislation requires employers with under 500 employees to give sick leave and paid family medical leave to eligible employees.Eligible businesses are now able to take advantage of new tax credits to offset the costs associated with paid emergency leave and sick leave benefits implemented under the bill, including credit for health plan expenses affiliated with the new leaves. Below is a list of scenarios your employees may experience during this time. Scenario 1 A full time employee is sick and believes they might have COVID-19. The employee is visiting a doctor to seek a medical diagnosis and...

Late Breaking News: Government Approves Remote I-9 Review Due to COVID-19

Late Breaking News: Government Approves Remote I-9 Review Due to COVID-19

Form I-9 Review: Key Details On Friday March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would relax its standards for I-9 document verification amid the coronavirus outbreak.Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being made at this time to review and verify documents in person. Remote Inspections Employers taking physical proximity precautions must inspect the physical documents...

Webinar: Coronavirus Response Act: What Business Leaders Need to Know

Webinar: Coronavirus Response Act: What Business Leaders Need to Know

In recent weeks the Coronavirus has grown from a crisis to a pandemic affecting small and medium businesses around the Nation. In response, the House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation to help businesses in the coming weeks and months. This legislation includes: • Families First Coronovirus Leave Act • Free COVID-19 Testing • Emergency FMLA Expansions • Tax credits for Businesses During this pandemic, it’s important that business leaders keep up with the latest information. Speaker: Katharine Weber Katharine C. Weber is a Principal in the Cincinnati, Ohio, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She has successfully assisted countless clients in handling their labor and employment issues in both Ohio and Kentucky. Additionally, Ms....

Executive Summary: 2020 March HR & Compliance Web Summit

Executive Summary: 2020 March HR & Compliance Web Summit

“This was the first webinar to ever make me cry (in a good way).”“Great session! Good information, relevant and easy to understand and follow.”“Best HR webinar I’ve ever heard.”This is just a sample of feedback from attendees at Paycor’s 2020 HR & Compliance Web Summit!During our 2-day event, industry experts like Josh Bersin offered actionable insights and advice on all things HR, from must-haves for small businesses to succeed to salary history bans and medical marijuana in the workplace.Did you miss any of the live sessions? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. You can watch them on our On-Demand Webinar page.In the meantime, check out our executive summary for a short overview. How to Help New Parents Re-enter the Workplace and...