Q. I have a salaried employee who is pregnant. She brought in a doctor's note that says her hours need to be cut to six per day. Can I either reduce her pay or have her work six days a week? —M.S., Virginia
A. It's easy to get wrapped up with tricky wage-and-hour rules, but don't forget to use common sense! Requiring a pregnant employee under doctor's orders to work a six-day week is a bad idea.
Your best bet would be to pay her an hourly wage for the duration of her reduced work schedule. During this time, you should treat this employee as nonexempt, i.e., pay her overtime should she work more than 40 hours in a week. When she's ready to return to a full-time schedule, pay her a salary and it's back to business as usual.
Note to readers: Don't try to switch employees back and forth between exempt and nonexempt status on a whim under regular circumstances—that could destroy their exempt status. The switch in this case can be explained and defended because it's a one-time situation for a true medical reason.