Salaried Employees Work Hours: Laws from FLSA

Exempt Employees and Rules Requiring Specified Hours

You probably are aware that exempt employees generally should be paid the same salary regardless of the number of hours they work or the quantity of work they produce. But, can you require them to work a certain schedule and track their hours?

Q: Can we require salaried, exempt employees to work a specific schedule and to clock in and out for any purpose other than to track paid time off? We have several exempt managers who need to be at work during the same hours that the employees they supervise are here. But, we are concerned that if we require the exempt employees to work a certain number of hours and keep track of the hours worked, we risk that they will be considered hourly, nonexempt employees entitled to overtime.

A: Interestingly, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and its implementing regulations do not specifically prohibit employers from requiring exempt employees to work a particular schedule or to track the hours they work. In fact, the Department of Labor (DOL), in the preamble to revised exemption regulations, stated that employers may require exempt employees to work a specific schedule and to record and track hours without affecting their exempt status.

(Download a free Hours of Work model policy including HR best practices and legal background.)

However, you should be aware that if you require exempt employees to work a certain number of hours and account for their work time on an hourly basis, you may jeopardize the exempt status of these employees if the accounting has the effect of treating them like hourly workers. This practice could make the employer liable for past overtime.

For example, if the exempt employee’s salary fluctuates based on the number of hours worked or the employee’s pay is docked for hours not worked in any day, the employee most likely will not be considered exempt. (However, interestingly, the FLSA exemption regulations allow you to pay an exempt employee additional compensation without jeopardizing the employee’s exempt status. This additional compensation can be paid on any basis, including a flat sum, bonus payment, straight-time hourly amount, time and one-half, or any other basis, including paid time off.)

You generally may track hours worked for purposes unrelated to the employee’s pay (such as to account for work time billed to clients or performed under a federal contract) and may record daily attendance. And, you also must comply with applicable wage and hour recordkeeping requirements for exempt employees, such as recording the time and day of the week the exempt employee’s workweek begins and total pay for the week.

Accordingly, if you require exempt employees to work a specific number of hours or arrive at a specific time (and have them clock in and out to show that they are complying with these requirements), you need to make sure that these policies do not appear to be treating them as nonexempt, and thus jeopardize their exempt status. You best practice, then, is to show that these requirements are directly related to the exempt employees’ job duties. So, you are wise to tie the exempt employees’ required schedule to their managerial job duties, instead of simply focusing on the number of hours the exempt employees work or their starting time. For example, if an employee manages nonexempt employees who must be at work between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., you can require the exempt manager to be at work during the same hours to supervise properly.

(Download a free Hours of Work model policy including HR best practices and legal background.)


Robin Thomas, J.D.
Personnel Policy Service, Inc.

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  1. 28 Diane 22 Apr
    My Question is I am an exempt employee, and I work 1 weekend a month which is 12 days in a row with no days off how is this legal. They do pay us for the saturday if we work a full 8 hours and then on sunday they only pay in 4 hour increments. The pay is less an hour than during the weak. The expectation from the employer is a full 8 hours each day. I await your responce . Thank you
  2. 27 HOWARD 15 Apr
    if a salaried employee is told that their shift is from 8:am until 5:00 pm. and all work must be completed within this time or they have to take it home to work on it. yet they have meetings to go to, employees that don't show up for work and daily interruptions so as not to be able to complete the ridiculous over loads plus having to complete no show employees work and fill in for open positions due to a lack of trained employees yet only paid for the salaried time. what if anything can they do. complaints are shrugged off by HR. injuries on the job are not handled. dangerous work hazards are not considered.
  3. 26 Sue 06 Apr
    I work in KY as a salaried employee, my supervisor is telling me that I sm responsible for my location 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Can I be held responsible for what goes on when I'm not there or on vacation?
  4. 25 Susan 26 Mar
    I am a salaried employee who's hours are being tracked, by my Manager's Manager. At no time have I or any other employee on our team been told that hours were being tracked. If I log off my computer early one day or work less than 40 hours in a week it is addressed by my Manager. Is this legal? I live in Illinois.
  5. 24 Chris 17 Mar
    I work for a company as an exempt salary employee. I am required to delete my hours worked past 50 hrs and I work on average of 90-100 hrs a week. What steps should I take? They require us to work off the clock after our 50 hrs but tell us we must clock in to keep track of our hours and then delete them afterwards? Help!
  6. 23 John 27 Feb
    I work for a company who recently went from contractor base to employee based. I was employed before the switch as a supervisors with a set salary with a schedule to abide by. After the change I was listed as a exempt employee and schedule changed from mandatory 6 days at 11 hrs a day, to 5 11hr days with a sixth day of 3 hrs. Now we are under a restructure and was told they are emplementing a 10% decrease and required to work 6 11hr days again, and I will be re titled. Before I was listed as a exempt employee I worked as a employed supervisor with a set salary and set 6 day 11hr a day schedule, but some weeks I worked more then that in hours but received the same salary. Is any of this by the book. Frustrated.
  7. 22 Bill 21 Feb
    I am a salary employee on a DOD contract. Our hourly employees usually work 40 hours and when they vant to take leave, they can use a combination of sick or vacation hours to equal the 40 hours. As a salary worker, we normally work 45 - 50 hours a week and when we want to take a day of leave we must use a full 8 hour incriment of vacation time only. This forces us to use 8 hours of vacation time even if we have already worked 50 hours. This seems like it would be an unfare violation of labor law. We earn vacation time in incriments of 2.3 hours per week but are forced to use 8 full hours anytime we use leave. If you could provide any comments or references on this, it would be greatly appreciated.
  8. 21 steve 12 Feb
    Our salary employees are paid a agreed amount each week. our payroll processor is telling us that we are required to submit hours for our salary personnel as we do for our hourly/non-exempt employees. We don't require salary/exempt employees to clock in so they could work more or less than 40 hours per week. We have a manager stating we violate the law by telling the payroll processor to use 40 hours for all exempt employees so they rate and pay amount is consistent every week. Should we insist they remove the 40 hour designation for all salary people?
  9. 20 Barb 30 Jan
    My employment status is full time exempt temporary for a consulting firm (I pay for health insurance thru the company and receive 6 paid holidays) My work assignment was to review/audit files pertaining to federal grants. When I reported findings the client didn't like, my employer asked that i take 7 unpaid, work days off before they could reassign me new work. Is this legal?
  10. 19 crystal 19 Jan
    Can an employer make a salaried manager come in on their day off to work and force them to work open to close shifts?
  11. 18 John 11 Jan
    I am an exempt employee that runs 2 clinics and works well over the 40 hours a week, As a matter of fact I do not recall the last time I had a day off. If a person calls in sick I am required to cover their shift, do not get compensated or paid at all. Do I have a case ?
  12. 17 troy 16 Dec
    I work for a florida based co and im required to work 60 hrs weekly with no overtime for salary pay but im docked if fewer than 60 what can i do
  13. 16 Mel 07 Dec
    I am a salary employee in CA and i work about 144 hours in a pay period (biweekly) sometimes i do not get a day off and i was told i could be demoted if i do not willingly work all week 7 days straight and 12-14 hrs a day. Is this legal?
  14. 15 Carol 14 Nov
    I am salary but required by owner to clock in and out. Is there a law that says an employer must make his salaried employees clock in and out?
  15. 14 Jennifer 31 Oct
    We have an exempt employee that works over 50 hours a week. He needed to take 4 hours off one day to take care of personal business. Our HR people are telling him he must use vacation for the 4 hours. Can a company force an employee to use vacation time for taking several hours off?
  16. 13 mw 05 Oct
    As a salaried employee in NJ, my manager has told me that I have to work an additional one and a half hours a day till the company is out of it's busy time. Can I refuse to do this? Also on my pay stub it shows an hourly wage not salary.
  17. 12 Jaunerose 01 Oct
    I have a friend that is working as a salaried employee for a trucking company in TN as a dispatcher...they do not get breaks or lunch. They eat at their desk. They work 4 days at 12 hours with 3 days off. they are being told that if someone goes on vacation the company could require them to come in and work 1 or more of their days off as they are salaried. Is this legal and if no ones knows who should they contact? I'm just trying to help find an answer...thanks!
  18. 11 Screwed 24 Sep
    Unfortunately being exempt the employer can make you work around the clock if they want to. Good employers wont do this. You could contact you state labor board and ask if you should be reclassified as hourly but you might not last too long if you take action against your employer. Best bet is to talk to your boss about the long hours but keep your personal feeling & thoughts out of it. If it doesn't change just find another job and leave.
  19. 10 bridget 16 Sep
    Can an employer force salried employees to take unpaid time off because they are taking a vacation and the salired employees job is esential to keep cash flow for the business
  20. 9 Chris 04 Sep
    I work in Pennsylvania and am a salaried employee. Today I will be working my 17th straight day withno day off in site. I average 75 to 90 hours a week. Is this legal? No one is willing to help me and I ccan't physically do this anymore.I am afraid to speak up, and cause trouble. I just want a day off or compensated for giving up my life to my company. Please help me.
  21. 8 Gina 13 Jul
    I'm classified as an exempt employee i worked less than 80 hours in two weeks and my pay was reduced. Is this legal? Also, I'm hourly not salary any help would be appreciateD! I contacted HR and was told my pay would remain the same. The following week i recieve new papers to sign stating i'm an exempt employee pay band.
  22. 7 Velvet 01 Jul

    As a salaried employee of Michigan, what is the typical amount of hours that an employer can legally require you to work each week?

  23. 6 Pia 25 Sep

    Can a California employer change an exempt employee's schedule from five 8 hour shift to four 12 hour shifts? Is it legal to change their hours from day to swing shifts without additional compensation?

  24. 5 Mario 28 Jun
    i have a question, as a salaried employee in Florida.  if i take an extended lunch do i have to make up that time?  can someone please point me in the right direction as to where i can find those answers?
  25. 4 Tom 19 Jun
    As a salaried employee for a private company in Minnesota, is my employer required by law to have me track my hours?   I understand that they can ask me to keep a time sheet, but my question is "are they required by law to have me track my time".  
  26. 3 John 17 Jun
    Everything I've read suggests her job is mis-classified.  She is probably hourly.  A call to her state Department of Labor should help her clear that up.
  27. 2 Adam 14 Jun
    Can someone please respond to Katies question, because from what I'm reading then if she worked over 40 hrs in a week then she is required over-time. Correct?
  28. 1 Katie 04 May
    I am an exempt employee who was told I am paid salary. I have to clock in and out every day, but i don't get paid overtime. I wasn't at work for exactly 40 hours one week and they docked pay from my check! how is that legal?!


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