When Do Salaried Employees Qualify for Overtime Pay?

Most salaried employees don’t get overtime pay. But is the reverse true-does an employer have to pay full salary if the employee isn’t at work? Some deductions from pay will be proper, but some may cause an employee to lose that exempt status and qualify for overtime.

Allowable deductions to your salary, according to a July 2008 Department Of Labor fact sheet, include where an exempt employee: is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability; for absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a plan of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness; to offset amounts employees receive as jury or witness fees, or for military pay; for penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance; or for unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule infractions. Also…

Also, an employer is not required to pay the full salary in the initial or terminal week of employment, or for weeks in which an exempt employee takes unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Any other deductions from salary may be improper, especially where an employer “makes a practice” of improper deductions. Some of the analysis of whether or not the deductions are improper include: the number of improper deductions, particularly as compared to the number of employee infractions warranting deductions; the time period during which the employer made improper deductions; the number and geographic location of both the employees whose salary was improperly reduced and the managers responsible; and whether the employer has a clearly communicated policy permitting or prohibiting improper deductions. If an “actual practice” is found, the exemption is lost during the time period of the deductions for employees in the same job classification working for the same managers responsible for the improper deductions.

If an employer is found to have improperly deducted amounts from an employee’s salary, there are a number of legal recourses available to the employee.

If you think that this fits your situation, an employment lawyer can analyze the facts and see if, indeed, the employer might owe you something.