But I’m Salaried – Dealing With the Top 5 Salary Employment Law Myths

by | Jul 8, 2010 | Blog, Employment Policies

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or info@integrityhr.com

Our last blog posting dealt with the Top 5 Salary Employment Law Myths and gave a bit of insight about each.  While some of you probably know that these myths are, in fact, just myths, even an occasional seasoned business professional is guilty of believing a few of these, whether he or she will admit it or not.

If you didn’t get a chance to read that, it’s a goodie. Check that one out before you read this follow-up post.  It might be a good idea to review it anyway.

Know Your Rights as an Employer

Please know that the idea behind these employer’s arguments is not to abuse employees or make them work unreasonable hours.  However, they are defenses against employees who believe that because they are “salary” they can come and go as they please without answering to a defined schedule, or who believe that they deserve equal time off for any time they work over 40 hours.

In a reasonable workplace that follows salary employment law, everyone works what is required to get the job done, and those who are required to put in extra time are rewarded (hopefully) for a job well done.  Most employers do not want to resort to forcing employees to use PTO (paid time off) – they hope that their employees will recognize when PTO is required and will request it to cover their time.

Keep Proper Policies and Enforce Them

Most employers certainly do not want to resort to docking anyone’s salary for absences – however, the abuse of time off by some salaried exempt employees is forcing their hand. Make sure you’ve got the proper policies in your employee handbook in place to enforce this if / when it happens (think: is your employee handbook up to date?).

What’s the most simple resolution to this problem? Discipline. It’s a word most don’t like to use, but discipline is important. Managers need to discipline the abusers so that they are not forced to implement policies that will reduce flexibility for everyone else who puts in their time to get the job done. Not only discipline, but consistent discipline. If you take action against one person, make sure that action is consistent across the organization in order to avoid favoritism.

Properly Classify Employees and Train Managers to Know the Difference

Management also needs to be certain every employee is properly classified as exempt or non-exempt.  There are very specific requirements for a position to be exempt from overtime.  Putting someone on salary is neither a “perk” nor a way to get out paying overtime.  Failure to properly classify employees can lead to major headaches, major fines, and major backpay settlements. Drop us a comment if you’d like more info on this point.

Lastly, managers can only implement a solid program for addressing the time of salaried exempt personnel once they understand what is and is not allowed under FLSA —  so be careful who you listen to, there are a lot of myths flying around out there. Make sure your department managers are trained to know the differences between salary and non-salary.  This can end up costing your company quite a bit of money otherwise.

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