Changing Exempt to Hourly

There is ongoing controversy about registered nurses being exempt or non-exempt and I have a pretty good handle on this. But..."what if" in a medical practice setting we have a need to get individuals to work a non-traditional work day. For example, we may need to add a second shift. Hospitals traditionally pay "shift diffs", but their nurses are almost always hourly paid individuals. If, for example, we were to go to a second shift type situation, could we change our nurses status to an hourly status and pay them a shift differential without getting into trouble with the DOL or just how could we handle the issue of working a second shift (just give a premium for the second shift and leave their status as exempt?) This is a tricky one!


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  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 05-23-01 AT 07:06PM (CST)[/font][p]Is your plan, if you create a second shift, to change all nurses (both shifts) to "non-exempts?" I assume, from your post, that you have determined that the daytime nurses are currently "exempt" under the "professional criteria." There is nothing in FLSA that would prevent you from treating exempt employees as if they were non-exempt. Remember, the concept is basically, every position is non-exempt UNLESS the position meets the exemption criteria, and even if it does, the employer can still pay the position as non-exempt. The assumption the law makes is that non-exempt status is the better status (whether that "today" is the feeling of most employees or employers is another matter).

    If it is to recognize that the second shift deserves more because they work the undesirable hours (at night), then pay a higher rate of pay that recognizes the difference between day time and night time nurses. FLSA doesn't care what the rate is (as long as it is minimum pay), but check your state laws. Perhaps even create a second payroll title, e.g., Daytime Nurse and Eveningtime Nurse or Relief Nurse or whatever, to recognize the difference in pay and the unusual work schedules.

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