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HR Question of the Week – December 15, 2014

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Question:

We had a disciplinary issue with an hourly employee last week. Instead of reporting to work at the normal time, we instead asked that they report later in the morning to join a meeting with the supervisors. During the meeting, we suspended her for two days and gave instructions about when to report for duty. Then, she did not clock in prior to the meeting. Are we responsible to pay for the minimum amount of time that she showed up for the meeting and was then suspended?

Answer:

Yes. The Fair Labor Standards Act states the time that employers need to pay for their employees’ work and it also mentions the different rules for non-exempt and exempt employees in this situation.

Under the Act, non-exempt employees will be paid on an hourly basis and they are eligible to receive overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The law has specific rules that talk about how an employer should pay for time spent in meetings, lectures, and training. An employer will not be obligated to pay for the time spent in a meeting if all of the following criteria apply:


The meeting is voluntary;
The meeting is not job-related;
The meeting takes place outside of normal hours;
No work is performed during the meeting.

In your situation, a disciplinary meeting is considered to be mandatory, job-related, and likely to take place during normal hours. Since not all four criteria are met, the company would have to pay the non-exempt employee for the time spent in the meeting.

The rules are different for exempt employees, but the time still has to be paid. Because exempt employees are being given weekly salaries regardless of how many hours they work, there are defined instances when the employer is allowed to deduct from the employee’s salary. If the meeting does not fit into the approved list of deductions, the employer is not allowed to make the deduction. Specifically, the employer is not permitted to make any partial-day deductions from the exempt employee’s pay. The only exception happens when intermittent leave is taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

This means the employer has to pay a full day’s wages for an exempt employee if they attend a meeting. While the law says that employers can pay an exempt employee a partial week’s salary in the final week of their employment, the regulations state that the employer has to prorate the salary by days and not hours. For example, if the manager terminates the employee on a Wednesday morning, the employee should be paid the wages for Monday, Tuesday, and also Wednesday.

Source: HR Support Center | Copyright © 2017 AdvaPay Systems, LLC

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