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Employment Law/salaried non exempt comp time

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Question
My Employer requires me, an exempt, salaried employee, to cover a Sunday shift once a month from 12-4. Many times it ends up being until 5 or later. In exchange for this extra 1/2 day I have been allowed to take a full day off in the next week or so. All of the sudden they are changing it to be only 4 hours of comp time, which was what it was when I started 2 years ago. At that time I was allowed to combine two comp time slips totaling 8 hours for a full day off.  They changed it last year to the current program citing the partial day rule, and now are changing it back, so I have to come in 6 days that week but just work half a day one day. And I cannot combine the two half days anymore.  This does not seem to be in accordance with the partial day rule for exempt employees.  Is there any kind of rule against this? Most weeks I work 45+ hours anyway.

Answer
Susan,
If I understand your situation correctly, and assuming that you are properly classified as a salaried exempt employee under federal and Colorado wage and hour laws, this would appear to be a matter of employer policy and discretion.

As you are likely aware, salaried "exempt" employees are guaranteed some minimum compensation each week ($455+/week)regardless of the number of hours they are required to work during the week, and they are not legally entitled to any additional compensation for extra / overtime work. While employers are generally restricted from making deductions from an exempt salaried employee's pay if they work less than a full day, there is no restriction on if and how an employer may provide additional compensation for exempt employees above and beyond payment of their salary. This would typically be a matter addressed by company policy or by contract.  If it is a matter of company policy (versus part of a contract), this can be changed by the employer at any time. Generally, where employment is "at-will", employers are free to set the terms of employment how they choose as long as they are complying with applicable labor laws such as minimum wage and overtime, and are not violating an employment contract or engaging in unlawful discrimination (race, gender, national origin, age, etc.).

The following link to the U.S. Department of Labor provides a discussion of payroll practices that do not violate the salary basis for the most common overtime exemptions:  www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/overtime/cr2.htm#8.

While Colorado labor laws are more favorable than federal law (eg. daily overtime pay for working over 12 hours), this would not apply to exempt employees.  For further questions or to discuss your specific situation, you may want to use the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment as a resource.  You can contact them at 303-318-8441.  

I hope this information is helpful.

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Michael Lore

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I will take questions regarding employment law, with a focus on wage and hour issues involving overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and applicable state laws (eg. California).

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