I have some newly installed supervisors who don’t seem to understand what salaried exempt means. I am an HR Manager new to the organization and apparently they have never had a “real” HR Manager. At any rate, we have board meetings, after hours meetings, before hours meetings and even some meetings on the weekend (it’s a medical practice and the doctors are pretty busy during day hours). Well, my new managers feel that every time they come in by choice on a Saturday to get work done or if we have a board meeting on Sunday they should flex their hours. Which ultimately means when I need my managers (who coincidently work across the hall from one another ) are taking at least one full day off a week or leave early every day.
My understanding is as a salaried employee you are paid for the work that’s done. You come in early, leave late whatever it takes to do the job. Needless to say things are not getting done.
Any advice on this? what can I do legally?
Let’s start with the legally part–although a quick reminder that I am not a lawyer and there aren’t any good legal shows on television any more for me to watch so I can pretend to be a lawyer. (Wouldn’t a series about Employment Lawyers be so fascinating? Think of all the drama as they argue for 3 hours about wording in a Summary Plan Description or had heated battles over whether a poorly worded offer letter created a contract. Why has no one thought of this before? Quick, get me an agent!).
So, anyway, I digress. Legally, you can have your salaried exempt employees (assuming they do meet the criteria for exemption) be required to be available around the clock. You can require that they work every Saturday! That they never get comp time! That they field 2:00 a.m. calls! Work them until they drop!
So, there’s that. But, that’s not your real question. Your real question isn’t even about the comp time (we’ll talk about that later). Your real question is, “What do I do when my managers aren’t getting all their work done?” Right? Because that is a real problem. The work isn’t getting done and they are still going home or limiting their work to 40 hours a week. I may have a small insight into why they aren’t getting their work done. I’ll quote part of your email: “we have board meetings, after-hours meetings, before hours meetings and even some meetings on the weekend.” Do you see what I see? A whole bunch of meetings.
Why are you having so many? How often are these meetings? You say they are using comp time every week, which means that these after hours meetings are held every week. Why?
Now, I have no idea what is involved in running a medical practice, so perhaps there are government regulations that require this, that, or the other and that’s why you’re meeting all the time. I don’t know. I do know that if you made me go to board meetings, after-hours meetings, before hours meetings and meetings on the weekends I’d feel downright entitled to take a Tuesday afternoon off. (And, for the record, I’m writing this on Saturday, but my boss is a totally evil HR lady, and well, you know.)
So, your first step is figuring out if these meetings are really necessary. There may be meeting that can be eliminated, meetings that can be combined, or work that can be accomplished via email rather than meetings. Additionally, you have two managers–do both have to be at every meeting? If you only require one to be present, you’ve instantly cut their meeting load in half. While you’re determining the need for so many meetings, speak to your managers about what they think is needed. Find out who is requiring all these meetings and see if that person can be reigned in.
Once you’ve figured out what meetings you can cut, you can start with the other problem. The performance issues. Sit down with each person, individually, and say, “I’ve noticed that you do a great job at A, B, and C, but D and E are not getting done. What can we do to make that happen?”
And then listen. They may say, “now that we’ve reduced the staff meetings to every other week, I should have time for D and E.” They may say, “I have way too much work. I just can’t get to it.”
At that point you can bring up the fact that they are exempt employees and, as such, are expected to get the job done, regardless of the number of hours they work. You can point out that taking comp time during the week is preventing them from getting the work done. You can state what a reasonable number of hours is. (This, in fact, should vary, and I’m going to say it’s going to vary by paycheck, although that’s not the only factor. An exempt employee making $40,000 a year should not be expected to put in as many hours as the exempt employee making $150,000 a year. If your managers are on the lower end of the pay scale, you’re ridiculous to expect 60 hours out of them.) You can discuss that 45 hours a week is not unreasonable.
You can also say, “I need one of you to be here all the time. So if Jan takes Tuesday afternoon off, then Steve needs to stay. Clear?” But, what I wouldn’t do is get rid of their flexibility. I would focus on the performance issues rather than the hours issues. I would focus on coverage rather than demanding face time. If the work that isn’t getting done can be done in the evening from home, suggest that as an option.
Under no circumstances do you want to go in there and say, “You need to work more hours! You’re exempt so you don’t get comp time!” That is just a loud message that you don’t care about them. Eliminate some meetings, and focus on the performance issues, and your problem should resolve. Evaluate if your expectations are too high as well. 60 hours a week for $40k with no flexibility is not realistic. 60 hours a week with no flexibility at $200k is. I suspect your managers aren’t making $200k. (And if they are, I’ve always wanted to manage a medical practice. Call me.)