must an employer provide the same benefits to exempt and nonexempt employees?
No, and in fact in many cases it is illegal for you to do so. For example, overtime is a benefit provided to non-exempt employees, but not to exempt employees. By the same token, often paid sick leave, paid holidays or other perks may be irrelevent for exempt employees, who are generally entitled to the same salary each week regardless of the number of hours worked. Some employers offer better group insurance or paid short-term disability to exempt employees only. And obviously various bonuses and profit-sharing plans are offered only to exempt employees.
As long as every exempt employee has the same benefits, and this policy is consistently enforced, this is lawful.
The benefits you offer exempt and non-exempt employees sends a clear message about how you value employees in each category. Some employers grant more paid vacation to exempt employees, reasoning that they are under more stress. Other employers make it all but impossible for an exempt employee to use vacation time, which is not a wise long-term strategy.
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