Human Resources/Husband's pay


My husband works as a systems analyst for a small contractor under a HUD Contract.  He monitors the runs that occur on a Unisys system for daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly schedules. They run 24/7 coverage and are on skeleton crew, so there is only one employee per shift.   When a coworker goes on vacation, he is expected to cover their shift (8 hours) or team with another member from another shift to cover the shift (4 hours each) at no compensation.  He is an Exempt employee on semi-monthly pay periods.  He had received OT pay, at regular hourly rate, in the past when he covered for coworkers, for hours worked while they are on vacation.  He was been told by a payroll accountant this weekend that he will not receive any kind of OT pay or comp time for his coverage going forward.  Is this legal? He had worked OT a few times this year, but they never paid him for his time.  Is this legal?

Hello Pat!

Thanks for your question.  It is somewhat involved so I’ll give you the high level summary and a link to further help you determine his correct status – exempt, or non-exempt.

If you husband is accurately classified as exempt, based on the definitions found in the FAIR LABOR STANDARD ACT, then he is effectively “exempt” from being paid for overtime hours worked.  It is all in the definition.  And to understand all that is included in the definition one needs to read through the fair labor standards act to understand the difference between exempt and non-exempt classified employees.  I have attached the link to the act’s definitions below.  You need to read through this, as painful as it is, and it will help you determine if he is classified correctly under the ACT.  If he is classified correctly as an “exempt” employee, then the company has no liability to compensate him for overtime hours. In fact, if he is correctly classified by the company as exempt then the company might create a liability for itself, by paying exempt compensation, under the ACT.  If you determine, after reading through the ACT, that he is in fact incorrectly classified then you may have an argument to take forward.  The link follows.

The ACT did change in 2004… so there are ways to compensate exempts.  Here is a link.

I wish I could help further but just retyping the text of the ACT in this answer would not be of much help. And the answers are in the ACT.  You might do a bit more net research as it is difficult to stay completely abreast of law changes, applications and the sometimes very “gray” interpretations that ARE allowed under the law.  That is why some companies use retained law firms or conferences to keep up to date.

The company needs to act on this if the policy is to require overtime work.  
In closing there IS the matter of fairness on the company’s side of the equation.  If the overtime happens infrequently then that is one thing, if it is regular or a matter of policy then the company need to act to create a balance.  They could very well have a retention issue if they fail to have good judgment with this situation.

I am not an attorney and I did have to do a bit of research on this. If I yet worked in this area, and I had this particular situation you described above, I would be doing the same things, that is, my own research/reading, using in-house lawyers to assist, and/or probably comparing my company's practices with the practices of colleagues at other companies.

I wish you good luck with this, Pat.  Thanks for your question!


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Mark Eichinger


Any type of question related to domestic and international Human Resources work. My H.R. passions include Compensation design and systems in competitive markets, Health and Safety in Industrial Environments, Performance Management, Talent Management (Hiring, Selection, Employee Development, Compensation, Creating Space, etc.), Communications, Coaching, Counseling, Leadership, and Management. Questions I cannot answer: I am sure there are questions within these categories that I may not be able to answer but my experience below would suggest those would be few.


I own International Human Resources Coaching and Consulting, LLC. Previously, I successfully held corporate executive and management leadership positions from 1979 to 2007 in two $9B+ multi-national corporations. Positions included: Vice President, Human Resources for the Asia Pacific Region, Eaton Corporation; I was based in Shanghai, China. Prior to that assignment, Vice President, Human Resources International and Operations, Eaton World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio with global responsibility for Eaton’s Human Resources practices, international assignee management, and Regional Human Resources Directors in Asia Pacific, Europe, and Central and South America. Specifically, my experience spans work at domestic and international locations at the operating plant, division, business unit, and corporate levels and most business scenarios to include startups, closedowns, restructurings, integrations, and ongoing operations. I am an Eaton Business Excellence Assessment Examiner (Malcolm Baldrige based system). I introduced processes and process mapping into the Human Resources environment. I have extensive experience with and working in domestic and international organization matrix structures. In the Asia Pacific region, my responsibilities included, leading the regions H.R. team and processes, managing the H.R. relationship with the corporation, creating and leading the professional and general manager development programs, China’s university relations program and managing the Asia Pacific key leader’s process. I have coached managers and leaders. I am a professional listener, my style open, direct, and focused on leader accountability and employee engagement. In Summary, my career responsibility included more than 60,000 employees, 60 union and union free operations, and 45 countries. I also lived in Korea for two years while in service with the USA’s armed forces.

SCORE – Counselors to Americas Small Business; at various locations I have also belonged to Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. I have served on Boards of medical, community and institutional organizations.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Youngstown State University. MBA work Youngstown State University, and University of Bridgeport. University of Tennessee, Lean Manufacturing Certified. Thunderbird School of Global Management, Management Certified.

Awards and Honors
Corporate level awards for compensation systems, communications campaigns.

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