The economic downturn is showing up in the Dr. Salary email inbox: I am getting a lot of emails about employers reducing pay, or cutting hours, and asking about the legal implications. Here are a few:
"[...] you said employers can get into trouble when exempt employees perform tasks normally done by non-exempt employees. We are experiencing this problem at work now. Non-exempt employees are losing money and jobs, because the company is requiring salaried managers to work the jobs of the hourly employees."
"[...] can a person be determined exempt for the reason of “Professional” when he/she only works 10 months out of the year, furloughed for 8 weeks to go on unemployment benefits, then return to work?"
"[...Given the downturn in our business] our exempt and non-exempt employees would be willing to trim their hours from 40 hours to 32 hours per week (get paid for 32). Having said that, I wanted to verify if this would violate any FLSA benefits and/or rights for either classification (exempt or non-exempt)."
"I am an exempt employee; can my company strongly request that I volunteer to take 2 days off without pay in order to help meet the annual budget?"
As I have described in the past, the one big benefit for employees to being exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (salaried) is that they must be paid for every week when they are ready, able and willing to work, whether there is work for them to do or not. Hourly workers (non-exempt) only need be paid when there is work for them to do.
What happens when a company is in trouble, and a lot of the staff are exempt? Are layoffs the only option? In this post, I will look at the ways an employer can reduce pay, and the federal legal implications of the choices.