The Mailbag.

AuthorDavenport, Anniken

How to handle partial-day absences for exempt employees

Q I understand that exempt employees cannot be docked for partial-day absences. However, can an employer inform exempt employees that partial-day absences will not be considered approved absences?

A: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, exempt employees must be paid on a salary basis. The general rule is that if the employee does any work in a workweek, the employee must be paid their full salary for that week.

Deductions for partial-day absences generally violate the salary-basis rule, except those occurring in the first or final week of an exempt employee's employment or for unpaid leave under the FMLA. In addition:

* Full-day absences due to personal reasons may be deducted.

* Employers that offer personal leave may deduct from an exempt employee's accrued leave account to cover an absence subject to the policy (in any amount, including partial days).

* Deductions may be made for absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness--in other words, sick leave. Assuming the exempt employee has used up all personal or sick leave, the question becomes: What consequence is envisioned by not deducting time missed from salary, but telling the employee that the time missed is not considered an approved absence?

As long as you follow the salary-basis rule, you are free to set whatever schedule you want for exempt workers and can discipline those who don't adhere to that schedule.

OK for timesheet to note someone took FMLA leave?

Q To help us track employees' use of FMLA leave, we have them record their FMLA leave on a timesheet that can be viewed by other employees. The documentation simply states "Hours--FMLA." It does not disclose the reason they took FMLA leave...

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