Docking a full day's pay from exempt employees

My question is: Can exempt employees be docked a full day's pay?
I've taken an employment law class and I understood an exempt employee could not be docked at all or it would erode their salaried status and treat them as an hourly employee.
Then I've read on other web sites that exempt employees can be docked if it is a full day (the class said full week) just not a partial day.
This seems to give employers an unfair advantage... they can dock exempt employees' pay but not be responsible for overtime?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.

2 answers  |  asked Nov 25, 2003 08:43 AM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (2)

David M. Lira
The Docking of Exempt Employees

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs the federal minimum wage, and overtime, there are two types of employees, non-exempt and exempt. Basically, employees are considered non-exempt unless they fit into an exception, which would made the employees exempt.

Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime. Exempt employees are not.

Employers have to careful about how they treat exempt employees. If employers do not comply with existing law, exempt employees can end up being treated like non-exempt employees.

One pretty sure way for an employer to lose the treatment permitted of exempt employees is to dock exempt employees for part of a day, especially for such things as being late, leaving early or taking a bit too long on lunch or another break.

Employers may, however, dock exempt employees for full days, for things like vacation and sick leave, and even for disciplinary reasons, such as a suspension for "x" number of days.

Employers would not be permitted to dock an exempt employee a full day for being late, for example. Such conduct on the part of the employer may create further problems for the employer under the New York State Labor Law.

Here, things become very factually detailed. If an exempt employee has an on-going problem with simply being around and getting his or her work done, the employer could probably discipline the employee by docking whole days, even though part of the attendence problem is simply being late or leaving early.

On the other hand, in an isolated incident, if an exempt employee is late by, say, an hour one day because of car trouble, the employer would be asking for trouble docking that employee a full day of pay. Th employer could end up becoming liable for the 7 hours the employee was not paid, and the employee could end up being considered non-exempting, entitling the employee to unpaid overtime going back as much as 2 or 3 years under federal law, and as much as 6 years under New York State law.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Nov 25, 2003 3:38 PM [EST]
David M. Lira
The Docking of Exempt Employees

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs the federal minimum wage, and overtime, there are two types of employees, non-exempt and exempt. Basically, employees are considered non-exempt unless they fit into an exception, which would made the employees exempt.

Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime. Exempt employees are not.

Employers have to careful about how they treat exempt employees. If employers do not comply with existing law, exempt employees can end up being treated like non-exempt employees.

One pretty sure way for an employer to lose the treatment permitted of exempt employees is to dock exempt employees for part of a day, especially for such things as being late, leaving early or taking a bit too long on lunch or another break.

Employers may, however, dock exempt employees for full days, for things like vacation and sick leave, and even for disciplinary reasons, such as a suspension for "x" number of days.

Employers would not be permitted to dock an exempt employee a full day for being late, for example. Such conduct on the part of the employer may create further problems for the employer under the New York State Labor Law.

Here, things become very factually detailed. If an exempt employee has an on-going problem with simply being around and getting his or her work done, the employer could probably discipline the employee by docking whole days, even though part of the attendence problem is simply being late or leaving early.

On the other hand, in an isolated incident, if an exempt employee is late by, say, an hour one day because of car trouble, the employer would be asking for trouble docking that employee a full day of pay. Th employer could end up becoming liable for the 7 hours the employee was not paid, and the employee could end up being considered non-exempting, entitling the employee to unpaid overtime going back as much as 2 or 3 years under federal law, and as much as 6 years under New York State law.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Nov 25, 2003 3:35 PM [EST]

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