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Time sheet for salaried employee

I have an exempt salaried employee who I have asked to complete a time sheet only when she takes time off for sick or vacation so I can record that information for my record keeping. She refuses to do it and says she doesn’t have to as an exempt employee. Is that true? If so, how do I track sick/vacation time? How do you really know when and why they are not here to avoid taking off too many days?
We are in the state of Illinois.

Thanks for your help.

Frankly, this is one of the most outrageous things we have ever heard of. Your employee is absolutely wrong. Not only should you put your foot down, unless she immediately changes her attitude, you should probably fire her.

An employer certainly can monitor the number of days and hours that an exempt employee is working under both federal and Illinois law. The employer can use any method that he or she likes to do so: a weekly time sheet, logging in on a computer, or even using a time clock to clock in and out.

Many, perhaps most, employers require that exempt employees turn in time sheets to show what hours and days they are working, on a weekly basis.

It is true that you must pay an exempt employee the same amount, regardless of how many or how few hours she works. However, as the employer you certainly have the right to establish expectations of how many hours the employee will put in, and how many days per week she will work. Under some circumstances, you can also deduct a days wages if she calls in sick or takes the entire day off for personal business.

You can legally require that this employee work 40, 50 or even 80 hours per week, if you like. You must pay her entire weekly salary if she does not, but you can also fire her for not performing up to your expectations.

Of course, if the employee refuses to turn in a time sheet, you cannot monitor when she is working and when she is off. That is exactly why she is refusing to do this. But, as an employer you do not have to put up with such insubordination. You can and should require that this employee turn in a time sheet with her hours, every week. If she continues to refuse, you should give her a written warning about this each week, for three weeks. On the fourth week, you should terminate the employee. (You could terminate her right away for this, but following our method makes it less likely that she will collect unemployment.)

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 at 4:04 pm and is filed under
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22 Responses to “Time sheet for salaried employee”

  1. KIM Says:

    Can an employer require 3 people that are salaried employees to use a time clock and not require anyone else in the company to use a time clock? Is this discrimination?

  2. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Kim! This is probably lawful. It depends upon the employer’s reason for requiring the 3 employees to use the time clock. If these 3 employees have attendance or tardiness problems, or the employer has reason to suspect they have been leaving work early, then it is appropriate to have them use a time clock.
    This is discrimination of a sort — but it is probably legal discrimination. It’s important to understand the difference. When an employer discriminates against employees based on sex, race, religion, color, national ancestry, age (between 40 and 70), pregnancy, etc. that is illegal. But it is perfectly legal for an employer to discriminate against employees who do not come to work on time.
    It would also be perfectly appropriate for the employer to require that all the workers with the same job clock in and out, while workers with other jobs not do so.
    HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  3. KIM Says:

    Hey Caitlin,

    Thank you for the reply the thing is this… The 3 employees are all white females that are in various office positions. One is Accounts Payable and receptionist that has been here for 13 years. The other one is payroll, she has been here for 1.5 years, and the other is Accounts Receivable and has been employed around 3.5 years. This is in the corporate office we have 3 other satellite offices each with a secretary and none are required to clock in or out or turn in time sheets. We also have men employed such as the CFO, President, Safety Manager, Yard Manger, Mechanics, and field staff that are not required to clock in or out. There are also two other women employed at the Corporate office one in Human Resource and the other is the Administrative Secretary that are not required to clock in or out. So as you can see the only personnel required to use the time clock are the 3 ladies mentioned above and we have around 300 employees total. This was implemented about 8 months ago and was not in use when any of the 3 women were hired, but a Secretary at one of the Sat office was hired after the implementation and was still not required to clock in by use of a time clock or turn in a daily work sheet. There in lies the question I have of discrimination.

  4. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Kim! We can appreciate your concern, but this is certainly not a clear-cut case of discrimination. If it were discrimination, all of the women would be required to clock in (including HR and the Administrative Secretary) and none of the men would be. It still looks to us like the employer had reason to suspect that these employees were not working the required hours.
    There is no requirement that the secretaries at the satellite offices be treated the same. Presumably, they have bosses who know exactly what hours they are working.
    Also bear in mind that it is appropriate for the employer to have different expectations of employees in different positions. So for example, a payroll clerk may be expected to work until 5 pm every Friday, while the CFO is permitted to take off at noon. Some employers call this “rank has its privileges.”
    However, since you have a concern about this issue, if you genuinely feel this is a case of discrimination against white females, why don’t you discuss it tactfully with the HR person?
    But one caution — probably the best you can hope for in this situation is that other people in the corporate office (but not the CFO, President, Safety Manager, etc.) will have to use the time clock.HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  5. Mrs. F Says:

    Can an employer have two persons in the same position, with the same title (in this case EMS Captain) and essentially the same duties and responsibilities have one paid as salaried, exempt and the other paid as hourly, non exempt. The former is now being asked to work 120 hours per week as an exempt employee while the latter is working 60 hours per week with overtime? Also, can an employer require a salaried employee to work 120 hours per week? Keep in mind there are only 168 hours in a week to begin with.


  6. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Mrs. F! Yes, an employer can require an exempt employee to work 120 or more hours per week. There only problem we see here is that the lower-paid employee could file a complaint with the EEOC, charging that he or she was the victim of discrimination based on race, color, sex, age, etc. (If both employees are of the same race, ethnic group, relgion, age, etc, then this is not fair, but it is legal.) HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

  7. Micheal Tammo Says:

    Thanks for writing such an appealing post. Cheers

  8. Caitlin Says:

    Thanks for reading,Micheal~ Caitlin

  9. Nat Says:

    Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter clarifying confusion about timekeeping and exempt employees. The opinion is supported by the preamble to the new DOL regulations 29, C.F.R. 541.

    According the FLSA, employers may decide to track the time worked by exempt employees. Some of those reasons include easier payroll administration and benefits management.

    Employers should track time for nonexempt and exempt employees differently. Nonexempt employees time worked is calculated by the hour. Calculating exempt employees time can be a bit more challenging. This can be done in different ways. Some employers track the days worked by exempt employees, yet do not track hours. Other employers track time worked by applying any vacation or sick leave. In other words, the assumption is made that an exempt employee will be paid a regular salary unless any vacation or sick leave is utilized. This way, an employer can correctly record the time an exempt employee has worked, calculate any vacation time or sick leave that was used, yet avoid tracking the exempt employee by the hour. As long as the timekeeping method does not conflict with the salary basis test under the FLSA, employers will be in good shape.

  10. Nat Says:

    Mrs. F asked: “Mrs. F Says:
    December 29th, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Can an employer require a salaried employee to work 120 hours per week? Keep in mind there are only 168 hours in a week to begin with.


    The answer is yes, but I would assume the exempt employee would quit unless they had nowhere else to go.

  11. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Nate! That was the assumption that the U.S. Department of Labor and Congress have made — that the number of hours worked in a payroll week are a matter of agreement between the employee and the employer. The assumption was also that the employees would “vote with their feet” and refuse to work for an employer if required to work too many hours in the work week. Many employees feel that they have little choice and often put in 70, 80 or even 100 hours per week for weeks on end. Working 120 hours per week is more uncommon. Thanks for your comments. ~ Caitlin

  12. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Nat! You are right! In fact, the U.S. Department of Labors PowerPoint presentation on exempt employees specifically states that tracking an exempt employees time worked does not make the employee non-exempt, as long as the employee is still paid on a salaried basis.
    We would quibble with your wording, though. There is not an “assumption” that an exempt employee will be paid his or her full salary for any day in which the employee works, even 5 minutes. The FLSA regulations specifically require this.HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Caitlin

  13. Jasmine Says:

    Can an employer not pay an exempt employee or pay an exempt employee late for failure to complete a timesheets? Where can I find legal documentation to support the answer?

  14. hrlady Says:

    Hi Jasmine,

    Federal law requires employers to establish regular paydays and pay employees by that time. Most states have minimum pay dates by which time employers must pay their employees. If you did not get paid because of a timesheet that is missing you need to contact your company.

    First you should speak to your Human Resource department or payroll department. If your employer did not know you were at work, you can confirm your time worked, probably by other means. It sounds like this error happened because of unintentional miss communication.

    If you are not satisfied with your companies response, then you should speak to your state’s department of labor.

    Thank you for reading the

  15. Sandy Says:

    We used the services of a gentleman for a while – We are a very small business and he wanted to be paid as a contractor because he said that he had a business on the side. After many requests to provide info on business and he being so secretive, we turned him into an employee but to this day, he never turned in his W-4 despite emails and verbal requests… Plus he never returned any time sheets and I had a hard time keeping tracks of the time he worked when we used him. Now he is threatening to take us to labor board because he said we should have apid him as an employee all along. We used him off and on but want to resolve this issue to we can move on from this ! Any input will be appreciated ! Thank you

  16. hrlady Says:

    Hi Sandy,
    If this gentleman was an independent contractor then he should have been paid as an independent contractor. If he received more than $600.00 he should receive a 1099 for tax reporting.
    If the employee was a part time employee, his hours need to be tracked and reported, he would then receive a W-2 form for tax reporting.
    You may want to contract an attorney or your accountant on how to handle this situation.
    Thank you for reading the

  17. HeliG Says:

    We have interns that paid stipends every other week. Do they have to turn in a timesheet?

  18. hrlady Says:

    The requirement of time records is for non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). So, requiring an intern to submit a time sheet is really at the discretion of the employer. It’s important to note that the FLSA establishes criteria to determine whether interns must be paid minimum wage or are subject to overtime provisions. The criteria can be read at Employers often believe that just by calling an individual an intern they can avoid certain FLSA mandates. So, be certain that you’re interns are truly interns. HTH!

  19. Helig Says:

    Thank you very much for your response. It was very helpful and I have one more question. If we hire a vendor for something are they required to fill out a W-9? I know that if they make over $600 we have to give them a 1099. What is your suggestion on this question.

  20. hrlady Says:

    Any vendor you expect to compensate at least $600 should fill out a W-9. The W-9 provides you with the legal name and address of the vendor and the taxpayer’s identification number, all of which you will need to properly complete Form 1099. HTH.

  21. Helig Says:

    I wanted to know can hourly employees write minutes on their timesheets? Please advise. Thank you!

  22. hrlady Says:

    Hi Helig,
    Yes, non-exempt hourly paid employees should be writing the exact hours and minutes worked on their time sheets. Under the FLSA, all time actually worked by non-exempt employees must be recorded. In regards to compensation, rounding time worked is permitted as long as the rounding practices average out and result in employees being paid properly for all hours worked. Basically, the rounding should not always favor the employer. The FLSA permits rounding employees’ “starting and stopping times to the nearest five minutes, or to the nearest one-tenth or quarter of an hour.” If you choose to round employees’ hours, it’s best to round up and down on a set increment.

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