Q: “We have a nonexempt salaried employee who is required to work 40 hours a week. She rarely works overtime, but when she does she gets 1.5 times her hourly rate. My question is, if she works less than 40 hours in a week, does not have any PTO left and does not make the time up, can we dock her salary?” – Maria, West Virginia
A: Yes. From the perspective of the Fair Labor Standards Act, you are obligated to pay every nonexempt employee at least the minimum wage, and you must pay 1.5 times her hourly rate when the employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek. If her weekly salary is calculated by reference to hours worked, you can deduct from her pay any missed hours not covered by PTO.
That said, if you have a written contract to pay her a weekly salary regardless of the hours worked, then you may need to pay her the full amount regardless of whether she works the full 40 hours each week. For the most part, United States workers do not have written employment contracts, and work at-will, so referring to those workers as “salaried nonexempt” reflects apractice, not a promise to pay. If you are unsure, however, you may want to check her offer letter and any other documents confirming that understanding.