Does an Exempt Employee Need Permission to Leave the Office?

by Evil HR Lady on September 11, 2017

Recently my dept hired a new manager, my first interaction with her happened when I broke a tooth and had to go to the dentist on an emergency work in basis.

I sent an email to my new manager letting her know that I would be leaving for the emergency appointment and giving full details; then coming back after. I also explained that my calendar was free for the afternoon with no pending obligations and notified my coworkers of my whereabouts. She was unavailable for instant messaging or phone calls at this time. I did, however, inform my Director that morning of my pending appointment.

Upon my return, I received an email asking if I had approved this through another manager (none were available) and that in the future she had to approve time off for doctor/dentist appointments – period.

I was adamant that I did my due diligence under the circumstances and do not believe I need approval to go to doctor’s appointments other than giving as much notice as I am able to and have consistently done. This is the first emergency visit to a doctor/dentist in my entire work history.

For informational purposes, I am salaried, have an exemplary work record, have taken 1 sick day in the last 12 months, and schedule minimal doctor’s appointments.

I would appreciate your advice, applicable laws on this subject and any other information/advice you might be able to offer before I take this to HR.

To read the answer, click here: Does an Exempt Employee Need Permission to Leave the Office?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Patrice Mitsos September 11, 2017 at 2:26 pm

I only want to read other’s comments. Why is it forcing me to make one?

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Maria Rose September 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm

I am not necessarily of the opinion that the manager was wrong as perhaps the reason for new management was problems like this. After all it was an enforcement of policy of informing those who needed to be informed. Those people don’t need to be informed via a face to face message but I am sure that all can be contacted via some form.
I question the fact mentioned that no supervisor was available at this specific time. To me, that’s an excuse to cover lack of sending notice to supervisors. If this person has been working as long as stated, then they know all the rules and all the ways around the rules.
The main reason, this person is annoyed, is that they have to justify their time away from work during a time considered work time. I understand that exempt personnel are paid a set salary based on meeting work goals not based on hours worked but with the changes made to definition of exempt personnel and the chances of the employers having to pay overtime pay, these employees are going to have their time spent working checked.
Rather than penalizing, HR should send or post of exactly what is the excepted management of hours during certain time periods of the week as some workplaces need employees to be available for work at key business needs. These times are not negotiable to skip without required notice.
I also know that long term exempt personnel as quite used to “creating ” their work schedule regardless of work needs and are often absent when work requires everyone on board.
If anything blame the new changes made to exempt employee pay and not enough enforcement until someone slips up.

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the gold digger September 12, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Rather than penalizing, HR should send or post of exactly what is the excepted management of hours during certain time periods of the week as some workplaces need employees to be available for work at key business needs. These times are not negotiable to skip without required notice.

Yes, but “required notice” doesn’t accommodate emergencies. Scheduling a six-month cleaning? Sure. Make sure it’s before 10:00 or after 2:00 if 10-2 are the core hours.

But – a broken tooth really can’t wait. I don’t think the employee did anything wrong. The new manager was completely unreasonable. It’s that kind of petty behavior that gets people looking for new jobs.

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Julie September 11, 2017 at 6:40 pm

In this situation, I think the manager is a bit out of line. Yes, employees should be at work when expected and should ask for time off when they need to leave, HOWEVER, in the case of a medical emergency when the manager is not available, a little lee way should be given to the employee. Especially one that does not have “emergencies” or take sick days very often. Who is really going to make their employee stay at work with a broken tooth (or other emergency)? That doesn’t exactly endear the employee to the manager or the company.

I’m sure the new manager is just trying to establish their presence and power (so to speak) and just went about it wrong. The best thing is for the employee to brush it off as this and move on. If the manager continues to micromanage or becomes difficult, then a trip to HR may be warranted. Until then, document the situation and let it go.

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Mr 4th-Right September 11, 2017 at 9:15 pm

Managers can and do act like egotistical overlords. Respond to childish tantrums as you would any 3-year-old’s: point out that your actions were (presumably) consist with the employee handbook, and that you’re perfectly willing to use any real-time mechanism for dealing with medical emergencies they may institute. Demands for prior approval in response to unforeseen medical events is merely evidence that you’re working for a jerk. Even when inmates are running the asylum, employees need to act like adults.

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