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Limited Duty-Exempt Employee

An exempt employee returning from sick leave is limiting her time to 32 hours per week. That is, five six hour days weekly. She feels that as an exempt employee she should receive full compensation. We feel she should receive full benefits but a pro-rated salary based on limited duty. We are less than 20 employees, a non-profit corporation in North Carolina.

No employee has the right to dictate working conditions to you. However, as an exempt employee, if you allow this person to work just 32 hours per week, she is entitled to her usual weekly salary under the FLSA, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

As the employer, you can discipline or terminate an exempt employee who is not working the required number of hours. The employer establishs the expectation regarding the number of hours worked by an exempt employee. You can require a minimum of 40 hours worked each week, or even more.  

If the employee missed one or more full days of work, you might be entitled to dock her salary. If she was working partial weeks and using FMLA for the remainder, the time on FMLA could be unpaid. Or, if you were allowing the employee to work partial weeks as a reasonable accommodation for a permanent disability under ADA, you could prorate her salary. But in the absence of FMLA or ADA, you must pay this employee her usual salary for the week.

There are several options here. You can simply continue to pay the employee her full salary for working a 32-hour week. Or, you can treat this as a performance problem and discipline her for working fewer than 40 hours per week. You could offer her a position doing the same type of work that she does now, but putting in only 32 hours per week and being paid just 4/5 of her current salary. Or, you could give this employee the option of continuing full time or accepting the reduced work week at a reduced salary. But allowing this employee to dictate working conditions to you is not a best practice in HR.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 17th, 2011 at 5:37 am and is filed under
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