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Can we deduct pay if workers go beyond PTO limit?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Q. An exempt employee ran out of PTO at the end of 2013. I was led to believe we could dock any hours the employee took off for personal time after using all PTO. (Our policy says employees who are out of PTO can be granted personal time off without pay.) Did we handle this correctly?  — Anonymous, Wisconsin

A. You were partially correct. No, you cannot deduct any hours an exempt employee takes off work. Yes, you can deduct from these employees’ wages any time off that is taken in increments of a full day or more.

The Fair Labor Standards Act exempts certain workers from overtime pay eligibility. Exempts can be required to work as many hours as it takes to get the job done. On the flip side, however, an employer cannot dock exempt workers’ pay on the weeks when they work fewer than 40 hours, as long as they perform some work each day.

Therefore, you may not dock an exempt worker for taking a few hours to attend a child’s school event or doctor’s appointment, for example. You can, however, dock pay for any full days of work missed, for whatever reason.

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