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Tracking Hours for Salaried Exempt Employees

I know a salaried exempt worker can be required to fill out timesheets to record minimum hours (in this case 42.5) but 2 questions 1. can this only be required of one employee (i.e. if two have the same title only one is being held to the 42.5 hour minimum while the other is not-this is being recorded by timesheet) 2. if there is no written policy for the 42.5 hours and the employee does not adhere to it, can he/she be fired?

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to retain certain records for non-exempt employees specifically the total number of hours worked each day and each workweek. Though this mandate doesn’t apply to exempt employees, employers are permitted to record and track exempt employees’ hours worked.

It’s important to mention that even though it’s acceptable to track exempt employees’ hours worked, it’s often not acceptable to deduct from their salary for hours not worked. Please feel free to review our previous posts on permissible deductions from an exempt employee’s salary.

Employers may require some employees to work different hours than others in the same job title/position. Just like, employers are able to require only some employees to adhere to a specified time keeping system. However, make certain there is a justifiable business reason for doing so. Otherwise, there is an increased risk for a discrimination claim.

For example, there is one employee whose performance is not up to standard or seems to be coming in late or leaving early too often. So, there is concern she is not working the required number of hours; thus, a more stringent time keeping system is required of this one employee to better track her time worked. This is acceptable as a method of discipline.

Absent an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, most employees are considered to be at-will. Meaning, either the employer or employee can terminate the relationship with or without cause.

Of course, an employer cannot terminate an employee based on personal characteristics as defined under both federal and state laws. It’s illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on sex (including pregnancy and childbirth), sexual orientation or identity, genetic information, disability, age (over 40), national origin, race, color, religion, or citizenship status. Furthermore, employees cannot be terminated for participating in union activity or for refusing to participate in any illegal activity.

There is no law that requires every single company policy to be in writing. So, if you’ve informed the employee that she is required to work 42.5 hours per week then you are within your rights to hold the employee accountable for not adhering to your directives.

Prior to terminating the employee, it’s advisable to consider adopting a practice of progressive discipline. Progressive discipline provides a graduated range of responses to employee misconduct. Offenders may receive a verbal warning at first, then a written warning for subsequent violations, then suspension, and ultimately termination. Progressive discipline ensures employees are treated fairly and consistently; thus, reducing the risk of a wrongful termination claim. Additionally, it may reduce the likelihood of the employee qualifying for unemployment benefits since there is a record of misconduct and she was warned continued infractions would result in termination.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 20th, 2015 at 2:16 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management, Labor Laws, Termination, Workplace Management.
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