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Can you set work-time minimums for exempt staff?

by on
in Employee Benefits Program,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. All our department managers are salaried. When they’re hired, they agree in writing to work at least 50 hours per week. If they miss a day or work only 45 hours in a week, can we deduct from their salaries? — B.L., Florida

A. If these salaried department managers have been properly classified as exempt, you should understand that employers are very restricted in docking the salaries of exempt employees. If, instead, you are speaking about salaried, nonexempt employees, that’s a different issue. For purposes of this question, I’ll assume your question deals with exempt employees.

Federal law says employers can’t dock exempt employees’ salaries for any partial-day absences (excluding partial-day absences under the FMLA, such as intermittent leave).

Employers can only dock an exempt employee’s salary for a full-day absence for “personal reasons” or for sickness or disability pursuant to a company policy or benefits plan. A few other exceptions apply, which involve violations of workplace conduct and safety rules of major significance, but those matters don’t appear to be at issue here.

Bottom line: You can’t dock these employees simply because they worked a few hours short of 50 hours per week. You can dock their salaries only for the few reasons specified under the FLSA. You also should review state and local wage laws, which may have additional limits on salary docking.

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