When to and When NOT to Dock an Exempt Employee’s pay

This info is for all – but please note in Georgia, we kinda geek out when “snow” or “ice” is mentioned in the forecast. Yes, even if they say “Less than an inch expected..”

(Originally posted in 2014; Rulings are still the same. Dock with Caution!) 

If the suspected ‘wintry-mix’ hits us, offices and factories may be caught up in closing or not closing, and then paying or NOT paying? Certain rules apply and employers must be cautious. Improper deductions from exempt employee salaries may adversely impact the exempt status of all exempts.

YES, YOU CAN DEDUCT: Mark Tabakman referenced Allyson Kurker of Kurker Paget LLC, who blogged about this; the message bears repeating. First, non-exempt employees may be docked more easily than exempt employees; that’s straightforward.  Second, the DOL has issued guidance (FLSA2005-41 Opinion Letter) that outlines when you can deduct. If the business is OPEN and an exempt employee does NOT get to work, the employer may make a full day pro rata deduction. That is because the employee has voluntarily chosen to absent himself from work for “personal reasons.” The full-day, personal-reason deduction is allowable under the FLSA regulations.

HERE IS ONE CATCH: When the office is open, an exempt employee who has no accrued benefits in their ‘leave’ account does not have to be paid for the full day She fails to report to work due to weather-related stuff.

If the employer CLOSES down, then no deduction can be made on exempt employees. This is because the employee (in theory) is “ready, willing, and able” to come to work, but due to the business decisions, based on bad weather, the employer has closed and, therefore, no work is available for the employee, even though he is ready to work.

OPEN, BUT THEN CLOSED? If the employer opens up in the morning and later shuts down as the weather gets progressively worse, the rules change slightly. Although the employer may not make a cash deduction from an exempt employee’s salary for the few hours that are not worked in an early closing situation, the employer is allowed to ‘compel’ the exempt employees to take hours from their leave banks to “make up” for the work hours lost. Note, however, that if the exempt employee exhausts all such time, the employer cannot then make the above-referenced cash deduction from the salary.  In that situation, the employer must pay the exempt employee.

HOURLY EMPLOYEES: Federal statutes say you only PAY HOURLY employees when they “work.” If the office is closed, then an hourly employee could not work, and does not get paid. Caveat for taking work home.

TO PAY OR NOT TO PAY? If you pay the exempts (often managers and executives, often ’cause you HAVE to) but decide NOT to pay hourly employees, you could be setting up discord and major unhappiness among the troops. Consider alternatives.

 

I help organizations answer their HR and People concerns before they become BIG, EXPENSIVE DEALS. Call 404-791-7454 or email Steve.Lovig@gmail.com for a FREE appraisal.

  

 

 

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