Hi Evil HR Lady,
I am an exempt employee (recruiter/sales) and never get paid overtime. Our evil admin lady is a real clock watcher and wants to deduct from our sick and or vacation time anytime we are out of the office “unaccounted for”.
For example one day I took my wife to work and was 30 minutes “late”. That is I arrived at 8:30am instead of 8:00am. I called in and the people that count knew where I was. However Evil Admin lady deducted 30 minutes from my vacation time. That very evening I worked until 7:00pm. And I was on call for the whole week taking phone calls at night and on the weekend. Over course I did not get paid for any of this – but had to cop a deduction in my vacation time.
I understand that an employer can set schedules – even for exempt employees – but is this behavior illegal or just annoying?
My vote? Illegal.
My second vote? Stupid too.
Now, my lawyer friends may jump in and correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. You can be disciplined or fired for being late. You can get a lousy performance rating and given all the lousy assignments. But, you can’t have your pay docked.
My source for all this is our very own US Department of Labor. Here are some dull quotes from them:
Being paid on a “salary basis” means an employee regularly receives a predetermined amount of compensation each pay period on a weekly, or less frequent, basis. The predetermined amount cannot be reduced because of variations in the quality or quantity of the employee’s work. Subject to exceptions listed below, an exempt employee must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked. Exempt employees do not need to be paid for any workweek in which they perform no work. If the employer makes deductions from an employee’s predetermined salary, i.e., because of the operating requirements of the business, that employee is not paid on a “salary basis.” If the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available.
Now that you didn’t read that brilliantly written paragraph, I’ll put it into bullet points for clarity:
- Salary cannot be reduced due to reduced quantity or quality of work
- You must receive a full week’s pay if you perform ANY work during that week (there are a few exceptions, such as if you quit on Monday, they don’t have to pay you for the whole week)
- If the employer makes deductions then you are not “salaried” and are therefore eligible for overtime
- Even if there is nothing for you to do, you must be paid if you are willing, ready and able to work.
- The technical language is all spelled out at the above link. The administrator likes her little power game. Your company doesn’t wish to pay you, and everyone else she does this to, overtime. Talk to HR. If they don’t care, present them with a bill for the overtime you are due.