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Incentive Bonus California

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  • Incentive Bonus California

    In September 2015, I started a new job with a company as a supervisor. After the first two interviews, I received a call from the HR department offering the position. I was told the base pay was x and that I would receive a 5% incentive bonus every March. I was then told that I would receive an email regarding instructions for drug test and background check. After that cleared, I was called into HR for orientation. I never received a job letter stating information about position, salary, incentive bonus, and so on. Now it is March and I hear everyone but myself and another female supervisor did receive the bonus. We are now being told that the incentive bonus is only applied to those that started before July 1st. We were never told this until now. When offered the position, we were both told over the phone by HR we would receive an incentive bonus based on salary in March. We raised an issue with the General Manager. She said we do not qualify for the bonus even if we did not get that in writing, but in good faith she will give her and I $600 verse the $3,000. We are told the $600 is prorated for 1 quarter. Do we have a legitimate claim regarding this? Are we suppose to receive the full amount?

  • #2
    It's doubtful you have any type of claim for the $3,000 bonus unless you have a binding employment contract which guarantees it. You might be lucky you are getting $600.00.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Betty3 View Post
      It's doubtful you have any type of claim for the $3,000 bonus unless you have a binding employment contract which guarantees it. You might be lucky you are getting $600.00.
      What would be a binding contract? What would be in such contract? Are you an attorney who has a good understanding of California employment law?
      Last edited by Adidas1234; 03-29-2016, 08:20 PM.

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      • #4
        No one here knows if you should receive the full amount. It's very, very rare that an offer letter constitutes a contract. Most of them are not (and frankly, you do not want them to be). What matters is less what is in your offer letter and more what the overall policy is regarding this bonus. If there is a written policy that applies across the board and it states that you have to be hired prior to July 1st to receive it, then it's too bad so sad that they forgot to mention that in your offer letter but them's the breaks, kid. If there is no such written policy, it becomes more problematic but ONLY an attorney in your state who can personally review ALL the related documentation can say for certain.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          I'm not sure how they came up with $600 if they are prorating it for one quarter ($3000/4 does not equal $600) and you've actually been there for two quarters, but regardless I would strongly advise you to take it and be happy. Incentive programs are not guaranteed and in most circumstances can be changed pretty much at employer will. As cbg stated, very rarely does an employment offer, verbal or written, constitute a legal contract. If you push your manager further, you could very well alienate her to the point of no return.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ferretrick View Post
            I'm not sure how they came up with $600 if they are prorating it for one quarter ($3000/4 does not equal $600) and you've actually been there for two quarters, but regardless I would strongly advise you to take it and be happy. Incentive programs are not guaranteed and in most circumstances can be changed pretty much at employer will. As cbg stated, very rarely does an employment offer, verbal or written, constitute a legal contract. If you push your manager further, you could very well alienate her to the point of no return.
            It may be for the last quarter of 2015 which would have been the only full quarter in 2015 she worked.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by HRinMA View Post
              It may be for the last quarter of 2015 which would have been the only full quarter in 2015 she worked.
              That would be my thought too. Many times bonuses for the last year are paid out a few months after the end of the year as the employer is waiting on year end close, etc.

              I'd take the $600. Because it is very very common that your amount would either be prorated since you weren't there the whole year OR you get nothing in your first partial year. Bonuses are rarely, if ever, guaranteed until they are in your personal bank account. I do agree that if you push it or try to negotiate, you will be making a career limiting move with that employer and I suspect it will be taken into account the next time you are up for a pay increase. And it is possible that you heard 5% and they said something like "up to 5%". Verbally it would be very hard to prove if you have nothing in writing.

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              • #8
                It is extremely common to have a cut off point for bonus eligibility. Presumably, next year you will be eligible for the bonus, so what you were told was not incorrect. If they are willing to give you $600, I'd take it and call it a day.
                I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ElleMD View Post
                  It is extremely common to have a cut off point for bonus eligibility. Presumably, next year you will be eligible for the bonus, so what you were told was not incorrect. If they are willing to give you $600, I'd take it and call it a day.
                  Thank you. I really appreciate the advise. I will do just that!

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