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Payroll pain: Can we ask staff to work for no pay?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Q. We are having trouble making payroll and have asked our employees to give up pay for 20 hours per month while they work their regular schedules. Can we do this? Or should we just cut their salaries or hourly wages to make up the difference? — T.D., Florida

A.
Assuming these are hourly employees, under no uncertain terms should you not pay them for hours that they work. Except for very limited circumstances (nonprofit organizations and student interns, for example), there is no such thing as volunteer work. The employees must be paid their hourly wage for each hour worked.

If they are salaried employees, however, you could simply ask them to take a reduction in salary, provided that the salary divided by the total number of hours is not less than minimum wage. Also, beware reducing an exempt employee’s salary below $455 per week to avoid losing the FLSA exemption.

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