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Human Resources/Part-time Exempt, working extra in different Area

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Question
I am an RN who works in a large medical facility with >2000 employees and more than one campus. About 15 years ago I changed from a part-time clinical staff position to a part-time (21 hrs/week) one which is primarily a paperwork job that requires clinical knowledge. There were no additional educational requirements for the new job, only on the job training and a year later a 4 day seminar in another city. I clocked in and out. Over the years, I took a national certification exam, similar to ones that staff nurses take for their specialty. When others in the department were on vacation, I was able to work extra to cover their responsibilities and was paid based on the number of hours I worked. The other full-time persons in the same job title were also paid hourly. We all 4 work under a direct supervisor in this field. I do not supervise anyone.

For my entire (long) career as a nurse, I have always been part-time and worked as needed in another clinical area - different cost center, different job classification and sometimes a different campus. I would clock in, charged to their cost center and the job code would be changed to a clinical RN. The amount I worked in the another cost center was totally based on whether they needed more help or not. The amount I worked in other cost centers varied from none to a lot. Sometimes the clinical areas will be offering "incentive pay" to encourage nurses to work extra shifts. This incentive pay can be earned even if it is not "overtime" so part-time people can get the incentive pay and still be less than 40 hours for the week.

All of this has worked well for me, allowed me to continue to maintain my clinical skills and benefits my primary job by me staying clinically relevant.

Regarding my Employer benefits, I pay insurance based on my primary job (part-time). My vacation and sick time is earned based on hours worked, so the more total hours that I work, the more vacation/sick time I earn up to the full time rate.

About 3 years ago, the full time nurses in my primary job decided that they did not like actually punching the clock and asked to be made salary. Our boss had discussions with HR and it was decided that I could remain part-time hourly even though they became salary.

Three weeks ago, I got an email that my position had been changed to salary. That completely makes me ineligible to do clinical, hourly work. This is a career changer for me. My true love is direct patient care. I am also not able to work extra for my primary position (unless I work for free!).

In reviewing your previous answers, I'm not sure that I qualify for exempt status as a professional.  The position doesn't meet this aspect: "The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction," although over the many years of doing the job I have acquired expertise in the field. I do make >$455 per week from my basic part time job.

Payroll has sent me to HR and HR has sent me to payroll. I've talked with at least 5-7 different people without any resolution. No one can tell me exactly why I am exempt. I did find out that although my job title is the same as the full timers, my job code was different until 3 weeks ago. I have actually been classified as exempt since taking this job 15 years ago, unknown to me. The payroll system didn't have a method of putting the hours or something like that until recently. When the software upgraded, they just took everyone that had been classified as part-time exempt and changed them from hourly to salaried. Payroll and HR has always been aware of my extra work in other cost centers and it has never been a problem. I have also always been eligible for overtime pay.

My questions for you are:
1. Do I qualify as an exempt employee?
2. Does the fact that I work in a totally different job description (RN, Clinical) and cost center make a difference as far as being hourly for the shifts in the clinical area?
3. If I am salary for my primary job, can I still work for the "Incentive Pay" rate in other cost centers, since it is not "overtime."
4. Can my full time coworkers be salaried and me be hourly? We have been that way for years until 3 weeks ago.

Any insights or advice that you have is greatly appreciated.

Answer
Susan,

Thank you for your questions and all the detail.

I think based on what you wrote you are not  "Exempt" from overtime;  meaning,  if overtime were to apply, you would be entitled to it.

Keep in mind,  ANYONE  can be paid a salary,  and ANYONE can be paid hourly.
So, you can be paid a salary, and also get overtime.  However as a part time employee, you may never get to that point where you work over 40 hours in a work week, so you would only see your salary pay that would be the same each cycle regardless of your schedule or quantity or quality of work.

The area that causes issues are exempt from overtime classifications such as executive, administrative and professional (and a few others).  These allow an employer and employee to determine if the employee meets the eligibility to be exempt, and if so, they may agree to make this employee exempt from overtime and receive a salary for any and all hours worked.

Also, even if you would pass the exemption duties, pay and other test, the employer could still decide to pay you hourly and overtime would apply- according to federal, state and employer policy if it is more restrictive than the regulations.

So, if "Joe Blow" is a janitor and his employer offers him a salary, that is fine-- but since he doesn't pass the exemption from OT tests, there are some things that must be done for Joe Blow the salaried Janitor...as he is NOT  exempt and is STILL entitled to overtime even though he gets a salary.   He must not earn less than minimum wage for  his total of hours worked and would need to receive the same salary each week; same as a salary in the typical sense.  He would also need to punch in and out.  If/when he gets over 40 hours in a work week, he would be paid a special half time type of overtime with a different weighted average OT calculation-- not the typical 1.5 x pay rate calculation.

As far as answers to your questions 2,3 and 4,  These are all company policy issues and can be answered best by your employer.  In other words, I can answer "yes"  or "no" or  "it depends on..."   as these answers are predicated on your worksite and employer policy.  No law plainly defines those questions to be addressed one way and the employer would set the policy on things like moving from one job or cost center to another and whether extra pay is offered for different shifts or work.

Consider an employer can choose to pay 2X rate on holidays or after 5pm for all work,  but this is not law and is above and beyond what the law requires, so employers must follow their own policy as defined within the state and federal laws for wages and overtime payment.   For example, hospitals also have the 8/80 rule that doesn't apply to other employers.   

I hope this helps.   
Brian

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Brian Phillips

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Foreign and US university students -*PLEASE*- DO NOT waste your time asking for my opinions, comments or analysis of your homework questions. Homework questions are not answered and are rejected. I am happy to help answer questions asked by employees and employers regarding United States based state and Federal wage and hour, OT, Fair labor standards, FMLA, COBRA, Recruiting, Interviewing techniques, employee manuals, discipline, terminations/quits, unemployment, HRIS rollout, Employee Leasing or Staffing company cost analysis, day to day scenarios, work situations and more. Essentially a well rounded HR generalist who operates Harvis, Inc., a human resource consulting and service business based in Northeastern Pennsylvania "NEPA". http://www.harvis.org

Experience

At Harvis, Inc., we provide Human Resource products, services and advice to small businesses that may not have the time or resources to hire a full time HR department. For larger companies with HR managers in place, we compliment their expertise to help with time consuming or time sensitive projects like updating policy manuals, screening and interviewing and more. We make workplaces better by becoming that 1/2 person they need to help handle HR responsibilities on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Formerly responsible for all Human Resource activity for a staffing agency with 2,500 annual employees as well as an employee leasing / PEO business with 1,500 annual employees. Designed and implemented the HR structure to support hundreds of clients in excess of $ 500 million in payroll volume over career in Human Resources.

Organizations
* President 2006- Harvis Inc. HR Services * President 2010-13 Business Association of the Greater Shickshinny Area - Shickshinny PA * President 2013- ShickshinnyForward Not for Profit Community Long Term Revitalization Organization and former member of varios Chambers of Commerce and HR Taskforce, former President of NBC Business Club 2 years

Education/Credentials
Bloomsburg University - 1993 BS Marketing, Bloomsburg Pennsylvania and Luzerne County Community College - 1991 Business Administration, Nanticoke Pennsylvania

Awards and Honors
* Better than average - 20/10 vision * Bestowed with an occasional "Thank You" from clients and their employees.

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