Q. We dock hourly employees who arrive late for work, but not our. There’s quite a bit of resentment about this policy, especially since over time our exempt employees have been extending the time it takes them to get to work during inclement weather. We know we can’t dock exempt employees if they make it in during snow days, but can we discipline them? — M.A., Pennsylvania
A. You are correct in that if exempt employees make it into work during a storm or other inclement weather, you must pay them for the entire day. Understandably, hourly employees may resent this and perceive it as favoritism since their paychecks are affected by their late arrivals.
You can try to explain to the hourly employees that exempt employees are required to put in extra hours without pay whenever the need arises, whereas hourly employees are paid time-and-a-half for every hour they work in excess of 40 per week.
As for the exempt employees, the general rule is that if the office is open and thechooses to stay home, he is absent for personal reasons and you may safely deduct a day’s worth of salary. If you close the office, you must pay him in full. If he comes in at any point during the day, you must also pay him for the full day.
You can, however, make the exempt employee use available vacation or personal time for the partial-day absence provided he has time available. Having to use up personal or vacation time should be an incentive for exempt employees to show up as soon as they can.