So please clarify- If the employer pays a salary for an exempt employee to work 55 hours a week and then pays the employee hourly for them to work 6 hours on Saturday but docks the employee if they leave work for personal business during the work day- how is this classified? The employer says they are not truly docking the employee because they are taking this time from their earned vacation time. Does this still follow under the exempt status? Also, if the clinic is closed half a day and the employee is exempt– can they dock the employee half a day pay 0r 1/2 a day vacation time if the employee reported to work for the 1/2 day the clinic was open? I thought the benefit to the employee being exempt was that the employee gets paid the whole day if they report to work for one or 12 hours- a give and take situation.
You are right that an exempt employee should be paid the same amount for the day, whether she works one hour or 12 hours. However, using vacation time is still paying the employee, under the federal FLSA. The amount on the exempt employees paycheck is the important factor, not whether it is counted as vacation time or not. (Note that in a few jurisdications, such as California, this answer would be different.)
If the employee leaves 4 hours early one day, and the employer reduces her vacation time by 4 hours, the employer is not docking the employees pay. He is simply following company policy regarding vacation time. (There is no state or federal law that an employer must give paid vacations to workers. If the employer does so, the employer sets the policies regarding vacation time.)
This is a very common method that employers use to control the amount of paid time off that an exempt employee can take.
If the exempt employee had no paid time off, and the employer prorated the weekly salary based on the number of hours worked, that would be illegal. But as long as the employee has vacation time, the employer can use it.
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