Time worked tracking for exempt status employees

How have others captured actual time expended on programs or projects for exempt employees without crossing from the salaried to hourly status based on the time tracking requirements for exempt status employees? It is important to track all the time to show what is required to support certain initiatives however the employee, because they are salaried, is only compensated for 80 hours in the payperiod yet more than 80 hours of time are spent on various efforts.


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  • We implemented a policy that all employees have to clock in and out.  The mere fact of having exempt employees clock in and out does not make them eligible for overtime pay.  We do not dock their pay if they work less than the 40 hours just like we do not pay them overtime if the work over the 40 hours.  It took a while for the employees to get use to it but they understood the purpose and followed through. 

     The time tracking system interacts with our payroll system and it is set up so that the exempt employees hours have no effect on their pay.

     In addition, this has come handy when an exempt employee has tried to claim that they were hourly and claimed to have worked 80 hours a week!  The punches showed he was working an average of 45 hours per week but on exempt duties.  Had by chance, the DOL deemed his work was non -exempt, we would have limited the liability just by having those punches.

  • In a past life I worked for a consulting firm, all the project managers were required to complete time cards even though they were exempt.  They work the hours down based on the projects they were working on.  In our case it was for billing the client.  However as the prevvious post stated, there is nothing wrong with having exempt employees track hours.

  • The mere tracking of exempt time or even, in fact, requiring exempts to log their time or clock in, is never, in and of itself, going to result in loss of exemption. It's what is done with the result that may or may not affect exemption. There are a multitude of legitimate reasons to track exempt hours, project costing being only one. If you were using the results to dock exempts or to 'microscope' time worked so you could have them make up missed segments of hours.............then you'd be on thin ice.
  • We utilize a time log program that allows clocking in and out, as well as job codes set up for different jobs.  This way we can track not only time, but specific time against a project.  Example: 4.5 hours on compensation planning, 2.0 hours on employee assistance.  As outlined above, requiring exempt employees to clock in and out is legal.  Just make sure not to adjust salaries based on hours worked except as allowed by the FLSA.
  • A large company I worked with tracked all time and coded it by project. Over 2000 employees, exempt and non-exempt, reported their hours. As the others have said, it made no difference that supervisors and managers regularly worked in excess of 40 hours/week. Another smaller company I worked with left themselves open to suit because they had exempt staff on call 24-7 but also insisted they be at their desk at 8:30am regardless. They didn't require employees to track hours but set time constraints in violation of exempt status. A third employer made all on call staff non-exempt and paid for call hours above and beyond regular time. They only required non-exempt employees to track/submit hours. Although it is cumbersome for employees to track time, it definitely provides a picture of what is being done and can help managers to make better decisions. It is much like keeping a food log when you're on a diet. Analyzing trends can help you to make changes.





  • I would add that the reference to exempt employees "being paid for ...80 hours" is incorrect (or imprudent) since we all agree they are not paid for hours worked. They are essentially paid by the week, regardless of hours worked, and it is probably a good practice to avoid implying otherwise in any circumstance. (Like we have stricken the term "probationary period" from our hiring lexicon, perhaps.)
  • [quote user="DonVR"]I would add that the reference to exempt employees "being paid for ...80 hours" is incorrect (or imprudent) since we all agree they are not paid for hours worked. They are essentially paid by the week, regardless of hours worked, and it is probably a good practice to avoid implying otherwise in any circumstance. (Like we have stricken the term "probationary period" from our hiring lexicon, perhaps.)[/quote]
  • Since exempt employees are paid by the week and not necessarily by the hours worked, I don't understand the purpose of an exempt employee clocking in and out? I realize their must be a method of time recording, but I think it undermines ones role as an Administrator  and  or Professional, and it can cause an untrustworthy attitude and appearance.

    I recently accepted a position as an exempt salaried Quality Improvement Coordinator, Registered Nurse for a Long Term Facility whose residents are mostly adult psychiatric and some geriatric reseidents. It's a newly created position, initiall there was no job description in place, Corporate and I developed

    one. When I first started working there, which has only been (2) weeks , I was handed a time record sheet to record my worked hours. Friday , I was approached by the facility's Administrator and was told that since you are not in an administrative role ( my job description clearly defines that I am),

    I would prefer you to clock in. I felt humiliated. Especially since for the most part of my job requires me to oversee the overall operations of the facility,and auditing primarily Nursing but other Departments too. Once the staff sees me clocking in like they do unlike the Administrative staff, I think my position/role

    will be underminded. Also my auditing and findings and reccommendations will have a direct impact upon Administration as well.

    I'm beginning to feel some apprehension about how my role and my status is being perceived by the Administrator, this is about the 3rd time she clearly

    has stated to me, "you're not an Administrator". I think she now wants to show me how she feels by asking me to clock in &out. I 'm not sure if I should bail out now or what.


  • Registered nurses are generally exempt, while licensed practical nurses are generally nonexempt. That being said, it is perfectly legal for your employer to require you to clock in. Most employers do not require exempt workers to keep track of hours. This is fine as long as the employer is absolutely sure the workers are exempt. The benefit of having exempt workers clock in and out is that if it is later determined that an employee was nonexempt and that employee makes a claim for overtime pay, then there are records of the employee's work hours and the employer will not have great difficulty countering the employee's claim as to the number of hours he or she worked.

    Time sheets for exempt employees generally record sick days, floating holidays, vacation time, jury duty, bereavement, and other absences. However, exempt employees may not be docked pay because of a variation in the quantity of work performed and recorded. Employers may also legally require exempt employees to work specific hours, for example from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. If an employee violates this type of policy, the employer may not dock the employee's pay but may use other forms of discipline.

     In your case, I can see how it makes you feel. It almost seems like your administrator is trying to "put you in your place." Unfortuately, she is legally entitled to make you clock in.

  • i can understand your apprehension but i don't think punching in will undermine your stature in the company at all.  how you conduct yourself and how you are treated by the higher ups will determine how employees will see and treat you.
  • There is some basis for the base note poster's concern.  There was a time when litigation in this area focused on duties test challenges.  However, things changed over the last 2 decades and there has been a lot of litigation focused on the salary basis of pay.  The whole point of these challenges has been for plaintiff's attorney to erode confidence in employers' proper classification of an employee, win a jury trial, and get back overtime pay for her client(s).  When challenges switched from the duties tests to the salary basis of pay, there was very little for courts to go on because the salary basis simply wasn't a point of contention for most people.  So, reading the statute and regulations very narrowly, as trial courts must, there have been rulings against things like even having a schedule for an exempt person during which they must be in their office.  The awkward thing in all this is that when plaintiff won a status challenge, there has been no real way to know how much overtime is owed for lack of time records.  The jury, which is generally composed of people who have had a job they didn't like and a boss they didn't like, is not typically forgiving of an employer in this situation and will err in favor of the employee.  Unfortunately, it's hard to say if the jury is in err or not because there are no records so they can pretty much pull any vaguely believable number out of a hat if they wish.

    However, as of the most recent overhaul of the FLSA regulations, it is 100% OK to account for worked time by exempt employees, billable or not.

    Unfortunately, many people find using a time clock to be "beneath" their status.  This is particularly problematic if you are in an environment where people move from line working positions into management and professional roles that are exempt.  We have such an environment here where I work.  Promoted people often think of themselves as having "graduated" from using the time clock.  This is a cultural thing that will be different from workplace to workplace.  Most places use a hand written time sheet instead of a time clock for the exempt employees whose time they wish to track for any reason.

  • Every single person in our company completes a timesheet.  Right up to the Pres/CEO.  Nearly every type of professional services firm I know does this - attorneys, engineers, etc. 

    As long as you pay the regular salary and only make legally allowed salary reductions (intermittent FMLA is one such legally allowed reduction), then you are fine.

    And for exempt employees feeling it is beneath them to "clock in".  That is an elitist notion. I am a VP and I don't consider myself any less of a professional because I have to log my work hours.  What's the big deal? 

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