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If employee’s PTO is gone, can we dock his pay?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. During our introductory period, new hires accrue PTO but they can’t use it until after six months. Can we dock an exempt employee’s pay if he wants a vacation day or sick day during this time? Or, after the six-month period, if an exempt employee has exhausted his PTO accrual, can he be docked pay? — Mike, Kansas

A. Yes, an employer can dock an exempt employee’s pay when the employee has exhausted any entitlement to paid time off, such as for vacation or sick leave. That’s true as long as the employer remembers that exempt employees generally can’t be docked pay for partial-day absences without running afoul of the “salary pay” requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In other words, salaried exempt employees are entitled to full salary for those days on which they perform any work. If an exempt employee takes a full day away from work, however, he or she need not be compensated for that time.

So, the answer to both of your questions is “yes,” provided that the em­­ployee in question misses a full day of work on each such occasion.

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