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Employment Law/I'm an exempt employee (manager) being treated as an hourly non-exempt employee.

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Question
Hello,
I am a manager in California at a very large company and have 10 associates that report to me. I have been an exempt employee for over 7 years. My most recent manager has set a schedule for me to work a minimum 10 hours a day and to be at work by 9am every morning and leave no later than 7pm. My boss has sent this schedule to me in writing multiple times throughout the years. I'm not the only one he does this to, every other exempt employee has a schedule exactly like mine for 10 hours but with different start and finish times. And my boss knows we're all exempt, he's been in the business for a very long time so he isn't new to this. And there was never an agreement - nor was it ever discussed beforehand - that my salary is based off 50 hours a week.

I have no problems with the schedule but what really irritates me is that if I stop for a coffee or gas in the morning and arrive 5 minutes late, he'll harass me about it and say "Your late your supposed to be here at 9am not a minute later!" which doesn't even make sense because even the hourly's get a 7-minute grace period. He does the same on the back side if I leave after 9.5 hours instead of 10 hours, he'll ask why I didn't stay my 10 hours and tell me I'm required to work a minimum 10 hours a day.

I've been a manager for years and consider myself and my team to be outstanding (the BEST) at what we do and do whatever it takes to get the job done whether that means working 16-hour days or just 8-hour days, or coming in on saturdays or even sundays. But if there is no need for me to stay 10-hours every single day, why is my boss requiring me to do so? The work always gets done and gets done timely, and he's never once mentioned to me that my departments work is not being completed, only about the number of hours I work, the time I arrive, and the time I leave. It's not very motivating to know I have to be here until 7pm everyday no matter what happens.

Another thing, when I talk to him about needing to leave early to pickup my kid from school because he's sick, or if I having something else I need to take care of like a doctors appointment, he'll give me crap about that day I came in late or those times I left before my 10-hours. He makes me work 10 hours every day but gives me a hard time when I need to come in late or leave early. He'll say I need to put my time in if he's going to help me out with my personal obligations.

I work my tail off for this company and never leave until the work is done, and also work from home on top of that, but my boss is too computer illiterate to understand that it still counts as working. I just want some clarification on the laws regarding this, because I feel its stupid to stay 10 hours every day just because my boss tells me I must even when everything is finished. I even brought this up to him once before and he told me with that extra time I could go out and help someone else's department until my 10-hours are up. A department that does nothing remotely close to what my department does, and
one I have no experience or training in.

I could be home helping with my kids homework or practicing baseball, or cooking dinner for the family. I really wish you could shed some light on this for me so I can talk to HR and maybe get some additional time to spend with my family, or at least be compensated for the hours I work past 10-hours?

I thought that being exempt was exactly that, being exempt from the rules that apply to non-exempt? I have never been disciplined for being late, or leaving before 10 hours, which probably doesn't help my case, but I have documentation from my boss requiring me to work 9am-7pm 10-hours daily. Please let me know what the law states regarding this and if I have any options here to discuss with my boss or HR about not being required to work 10 hours every day. Also, could I be written up if I don't stay 10-hours on the days I'm finished early? Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Answer
Wages for an exempt employee are not based on hours but on the job at hand. The company does have the right to schedule an exempt a specific schedule for the smooth running of the business. If that exempt works part of the day he/she must be paid for the entire day.

Exempt employees may be asked to work any number of hours to get the job done. They should not be asked to do the job of others just for the sake of putting in hours. They should not be told to work a specific number of hours.

Treating you as if you are hourly could cause the exemption to be lost and you would than be paid as an hourly employee and overtime for all the hours worked past 40 hours in a week.

Your local department of labor may be able to help with determining if you are still exempt or if you are now hourly due to the exemption being lost. They may also call and talk to your company on your behalf and explain them them the difference between exempt and non exempt and what can and can not be done.

Shirley

Employment Law

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Shirley McAllister, CPP, PHR

Expertise

I can answer questions about payroll laws and payroll tax laws and Human Resource laws and agencies. I can answer federal payroll and human resource law questions and most states; I do not have a knowledge of the local taxes for cities and counties within the state. If and when I can I will try and send you the website where you can reference the answer and where you can obtain more information as well as a contact number if needed for that particular agency. Some agencies I have worked with are IRS, Department of Labor (federal and state), Revenue Canada (and provincial governments), Inland Revenue, OSHA (0ccupational Safety and Health Administration); Social Security Administration and National Child Support as well as other agencies in Payroll and Human Resources. Some Laws I am particularly familiar with are FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act ) , QDRO's, QMCSO's, and other support orders and garnishments, USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act,PPA Act (Pension Protection Act of 2006, As well as most other employment type acts. I am also well versed in the Title V Civil Rights Act and the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Experience

30 years in Payroll and Human Resources

Organizations
SHRM (Society of Human Resources) APA (American Payroll Association) DOLEA (Department of Labor Employers Association) CPA (Canadian Payroll Association) NAPW (National Association of Professional Women) The Mentoring Network

Education/Credentials
PHR Certification in Human Resources CPP Certification in Payroll in U.S. Payroll Administrator and Payroll Supervisor certification in Canada

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