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But I’m Salaried?! – Top 5 Salary Employment Law Myths

Jul 1, 2010 | Blog, Employment Policies

As complex as salary employment law is, it can be confusing to get all of your ducks in a row when dealing with the provisions of each law.  As an employer, what do you do when your employees are abusing their time off? This post will cover some of these specific situations and the salary employment law associated with them.

A number of our clients have created employment policies specific to the schedules and time off of their salaried employees because the problem of employees abusing time off has become so rampant.

The problem is that management often misinterprets salary employment law and what it means to be a salaried employee as much as the employees do. So let’s address the most common arguments:

(Please note that for this exercise we are referring to salaried exempt personnel on a full-time schedule only.)

Top 5 Salary Employment Law Myths

1) “But I’m salaried! You can’t make me work 50 hours a week”
Unless you are protected by child labor laws or are in a position that regulates shifts for safety reasons (such as pilots or truck drivers), I can require you to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week. I could, but if I understand anything about human nature and employee retention, I won’t.

The point is that there are no federal limits on the number of hours an employer can require a salaried exempt person to work for their weekly wage.

2) “But I’m salaried! You can’t make me use PTO for a day off!”
Actually, that’s what PTO is for — it’s Paid Time Off, meaning that I pay you even though you don’t work. As long as I am following the guidelines of our policy regarding the increments in which PTO is used, I can debit your PTO account for absences, full day or partial day.

If I’m a smart and accommodating manager, I’ll recognize when you put in extra time and follow policy to allow you some additional time off without using your PTO. I also won’t nitpick regarding the occasional long lunch or afternoon appointment which allows you to cut out early.

However, if you start to nickel and dime about getting 3.7 hours off this week because you worked over 3.7 hours last week, you can bet that our policy will be that PTO will have to cover it.

3) “But I’m salaried! Why should I have to be here from 8-5 each day? You pay me to do the job, not by the hour.”
True – the principal behind defining a position as exempt from overtime is that you are paying a person to do the whole job, not necessarily by the time it takes them to do it. However, part of that “whole job” is availability to customers, colleagues and management, which means following the schedule that accommodates those with whom we do business.

Besides, if you tell me that I’m paying you to fulfill a role that I think should take 45 hours a week and you can do it in 25 hours, then I probably need to give you something else to do.

4) “But I’m salaried! You have to pay me for the whole week no matter what.”
Salary employment law says this is a PTO issue as well.  If you take off two days in the week, I’ll use two days of your PTO. However, if you’ve used all of your PTO and available time off, then the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) will allow me to dock you the two day’s pay. The rules about this are very strict.

I can only dock you for full days absences in which you completed no work, and only if you initiated the absence.  If you’re confused, please feel free to Contact Us regarding FLSA.

5) “But I’m salaried! You have to give me comp time for the extra time I put in last week.”
Comp time is for hourly non-exempt personnel only, and those not in private industry. Might I give you a more flexible schedule this week or an extra day over the holiday weekend because you put in a few late nights to get last week’s project done?  If I’m an accommodating manager I might.

However if you tell me that I have to and that I owe it to you then I might be a little disinclined to offer you a reward. For more information on Handling Comp Time in Kentucky, please refer to our whitepaper.

This post is getting a bit long winded, so we’ll pick it up next time with the solutions to these problems.  Do you have issues like these in your workplace?  Feel free to consult any of the resources in this article or Contact Us for assistance.

Resources in this Post:
Comp Time in Kentucky
Policy Development
Compensation Consulting
Fair Labor Standards Act
Contact Us

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