I work for a small non-profit and at the start of the pandemic in the United States myself and at least one other employee that I know of were furloughed. The other day I received an email stating that in order to come back, my salary would have to be cut in half for an indefinite amount of time. I have been with the employer for 6 years, longer than any other employee. After talking with coworkers I seem to be the only one to receive this email. I received this information in an email and I really do not know how to respond or what questions I should be asking. I don’t want this to affect any unemployment that I will be receiving either. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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    Personally, I would pretend I never got the email, so I wouldn't even reply to it. By the way, are they also cutting the number of hours in half, or just the salary? – Stephan Branczyk Mar 28 at 6:44
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    So many things to check - local employment regulations, company policies etc etc check with a lawyer. Me, I would find another post as I would never trust them in the future. Your skills must be valuable and don’t feel guilty if they play the “Oh, we need you so much”... – Solar Mike Mar 28 at 6:46
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    What does 'dismissed' mean in this context? You got sacked? – Kilisi Mar 28 at 13:15
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    You need to talk to a lawyer, not to anonymous people on the internet. – PeteCon Mar 28 at 18:40
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    Is the halved salary they're offering more than you're getting from unemployment insurance? How is your job search going? – Ben Crowell Mar 29 at 15:10

I don’t want this to affect any unemployment that I will be receiving either.

If you accept the half-salary offer, you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits. Contact your state's unemployment office to be sure.

You should call your employer rather than reply by email, talk over their offer, and learn all the details:

  • How long will the low salary last?
  • Under what conditions would your salary be restored?
  • Will you receive the same benefits as before?
  • Were you the only one chosen for this offer, and if so why?

Then you need to decide what is best for your family. Healthcare benefits may be an important factor. And many folks would choose to work if they could. But the choice is strictly personal.

It's possible that they are trying to help you as a long-time employee, and this is the best they can do at this time. Maybe they are trying to keep as many employees working as possible, and others will be getting the same offer. Try to assume positive intent, at least until you hear their side.

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    +1 for a balanced answer that does not assume the employer is acting in bad faith. – Gregory Currie Mar 28 at 11:34
  • "If you accept the half-salary offer, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits." That may not be exactly true. Many states allow you to receive partial unemployment benefits if your hours were cut or if your salary got reduced. With that said, it's not something I'd recommend the OP does as it will most likely reduce the amount he receives each week. – Stephan Branczyk Mar 28 at 15:29

Part of the coronavirus bill that passed says that some workers can get paid up to $600/week on top of regular unemployment pay for the next 4 months [thank you Joe Strazzere for the clarification]. Definitely look into that. It might be better than doing the same amount of work for half the pay, and you can look for a new job.

I do not know your employer, but it's dangerous to assume they will definitely bump your pay back up in the near future (whether they aren't making enough money to or whether they are happy to realize they can keep you on and pay you less).

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    This would require the author to be let go and be eligible for unemployment insurance, but unemployment insurance might be less than the author’s income (even reduced), so that’s a thing – Donald Mar 29 at 22:22

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