Exempt - Time off

The company does not allow any vacation time to be earned until an employee is with the company 12 full months (exempt or non-exempt). Non-exempt employees earn sick time after being with the company 90 days. It is also the verabl policy for all employees to use sick time earned to cover anytime they must take off, such as extra vacation days needed, religious holiday needed, a personal day off etc.

1. For exempt employees, no sick time is earned. If you are sick you take the time and if you are out more than they think you should be your pay is docked. We have no written policies on this. There are only a handful of exempt employees about 7 of 103 to be exact. No time off is given if you are not sick.

2. When an exempt employee must take a day and is not sick - is that time to be with or without pay?

3. For example - the day before Thanksgiving (children are out of school and are too young to stay at home alone- sitter is out of town), or a personal day because the employee has workers at their house for a repair? Or the employee has a child that is sick or other need during the workday?

4. Precedent is no pay if you are salary and you take a day off before 12 months unless you are sick. But no precedent on what is too many days without pay may be and can an employee take a without being sick? Time off for doctors appointments are paid for exempt employees - but I have been given the impression that more than one appointment from time to time is a problem.

For example we recently had an employee got for an annual check up it resulted in the need for a mammogram, and then an additional mammogram, then also a separtate appointment for a blood test. Four appointments, four different days over five week period, total time gone from the job approximately 9 hours - employee made the appointments either first thing in the morning or last appointment they could get for the day. The implication for this employee has been to watch her time since she has been gone too much. Each appointment has been accounted for and this employee hasn't missed a beat with work assignments.

How to handle these issues? I am new working without written policies and don't see any being approved in the near future.


  • 9 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • You do not have to pay an exempt ee if they are not at work for the whole day, sick or otherwise, but if they show up anytime during the day even for 5 minutes you are required to pay them for that day.

    Why do you offer sick days to non-exempt and not exempt?

  • Wish I knew the answer to that. I have been here just 6 months and don't know why they do a lot of things.

    I just found out there is no earned sick time for exempt. Frankly I thought I was earning sick time as well - but am not.

  • Our exempts don't earn 'sick leave' either. If they take it, they're just paid.
  • If you folks do not have a policy handbook and you believe one won’t be approved for a while, you still need to start developing one right away. If you do not know what your policies are on these matters, how do those 107 employees know? If they do not know, how can they know what they can or can’t do? The range of questions you raise in the face of the practices you describe means that you are clearly a FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) violation just waiting to be found by a disgruntled or curious employee. Incidentally, verbal policies or operating purely by unwritten precedents are dangerous. Who insures that the policy is consistent, what the precedents are, and thereby avoid potential discrimination problems? As to the questions you pose:
    1. Unless you have a clearly established sick leave policy, you cannot dock an exempt employee for days of non-FMLA sick leave. On the other hand you can always dock an exempt employee for FMLA leave. If you have such a sick leave policy, you can dock an exempt before that employee qualifies and after that employee has exhausted any sick leave entitlement. The current seemingly haphazard policy appears to be arbitrary and seems to violate the FLSA. Incidentally, to have a sick leave policy for purposes of the FLSA, you should have it clearly established and that means in writing.
    2. If an exempt employee takes a personal day off for a reason other than health, note health leave is addressed in #1 above, you are not obligated to pay for that day. Of course, if you choose to do so you can. Again, your approach should be a policy to maintain consistency and clearly let employees know where they stand.
    3. Generally, these sound like personal needs and you need not pay an exempt employee for such time. Note, however, that one of the situations you mention – caring for the sick child, could be FMLA leave and while you need not pay for FMLA time (either exempt or nonexempt employees) such time is protected under FMLA.
    4. Again, the fact that your leave situation is set by precedent rather than a thought out and promulgated policy is bad practice. Aside from that, your question #4 seems to contradict question #1. In #1, you indicate that exempt employees are sometimes paid and sometimes not paid for sick leave. Yet in this question #4 you indicate exempt employees are paid for sick leave days. Incidentally, again note that per FMLA you can dock an exempt employee for FMLA qualifying sick leave whether it is in increments of part of a day or whole days. Incidentally, if you do not know what you policies are in these matters, how are the other 107 employees supposed to know when they get paid and when they do not. Also, while you do not have a policy on these matters, do you have paperwork in place, including a notice to employees, concerning FMLA. You have over fifty employees and I presume at least 50 of them are at the same location which means you are required by law to have such notice so that employees know about their FMLA rights.

    As to your last question concerning the employee that has been taking mammogram tests, you need to distinguish as to whether she is exempt or nonexempt. You also need to consider whether she is qualified for FMLA and whether the tests are part of an FMLA situation.

  • I'm sure glad I don't work for your company! They seem harsh and unreasonable. But nonetheless, the woman who took time off for the doctor visits, mamograms and bloodtests must be paid if she is exempt and worked for part of the day.
  • thanks for all of the info.

    I did write an employee handbook the first three weeks on the job - it has not been addressed by owners. The comptroller of the company administers benefits and paychecks and she is the one who quotes these guidelines to follow regarding when vacation is accured and when the holidays are and when sick time is earned or not earned. They did not have an HR director before I came onboard - rather they had someone who hired and fired people.

    About 20 years ago they had some of the policies is writing - but no one including me the HR director have them for use now. The owners and comptroller continue to use and quote these policies - but they aren't written down to read and to distribute.

    The information is piece meal at best and I am constantly asking for clarification from the comptroller when I receive inquries from Staff. I am accustomed to having written policies.

    I now ask employees to go directly to her since I have now been called on the carpet (the comptroller sent an email to the owners and the vp that I was talking negatively about the company) for acknowledging to new professional employee who was recruited and hired by a vp (wihtout my involvement or knowledge and thus had no idea he had no sick or vaction time for more than a year)that our sick leave and vacation policy is not what I was accustomed to either. The new professional employee was astounded and threw a fit in a voice mail message to me regarding the lack of benefits on his first day of employment with us. I replied in writing by email to confirm again how time off is handled. He is employed in a home office outside of our office and has since indicated to me he's used to being able to do what he wants and he will continue to do so - he is in inside sales. Wish we all had such luxury.

    As for the person attending doctor's appointments - she is salaried and extempt- it is me. I went to two doctor's appointments - two mammagrams each at the beginning or the end of the day in order to cause less work interuption. I have been here 6 months. Since going to these appointments over the course of a two-month period -I have been told my time is being watched (by a reliable employee who wanted help me out).

    I have not gone to get a blood test ordered by my doctor because I am afraid I of even more issues coming up because I wasn't in my chair during working hours. Nearly everyone here is hourly non-exempt except for about 7 of us.

    I have never been diciplined here or at any job in my 20+ year career- in fact I have been told by the company president, who hired me, that I am doing a great job. I arrive each day and leave each day at the same time and work without lunch or a break during the 8 hours I am at work.

    Believe me, I have kept a low profile since I took this job. (Laid off a year ago after 20 years in a professional position - out of work for 7 months took this job - it is close to home and provided health insurance).

    This company was not in compliance in a number of areas that I have since changed and/or I am trying to improve. They manufacture and sell products. Their employees are under paid and they have high turn over.

    I have now made the decision to look for another job - even if it pays even less than here - so I can get out of this environment. It is making me ill. I hate to job hop after being out of work for 7 months and here just 6 months - but can't continue to be functional in this dysfunctional place.

    Things here won't change because they like them the way they are! Anyone ever see Joe vs. The Volcano? Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan? I am Joe! Big Brain Cloud has developed in just 6 months! (BTW mammogram came back clean!)

    Six months in this cinderclock office and I am now looking for an outside sales job so I can get out, eat lunch and see people!

    I live in Southeast area of Houston - any jobs leads would be helpful. I am have been in Marketing, Public/Employee Relations and Human Resources for more than 20 years. I am accredied in PR.

  • Seems to me the company's living in the dark ages. I would be doing what you are doing - job hunting. In the mean time hang in there and good luck!
  • Hey Turbo,
    A few thoughts, I am in a philisophical mood today x:D
    First off who do you report to? The comptroller or the VP?
    Second, I want you to take lunch today, get out of the office, even if just to go to the library or grab a quick bite to eat. That alone will help. Third call and set up the appointment for the blood test. See if you can turn it during the lunch hour, if not just go for late in the day and don't sweat it. Fourth you have made the right decision to begin evaluating other opportunities..............wise choice, but maybe just maybe you have one opportunity you have not considered. (I may catch hell for this but I don't care.) That opportunity is that in knowing you do not want to stay is to try and change the current work environment. It may be easier to do if you don't mind moving on.
    When there are issues that the comptroller is being a moron about, email him, cc the VP. Make it a point to sit down with the VP discuss the importance of involving HR in the hiring process etc. Continue doing what should be done, know that it may get you canned as the comptroller will see you as a threat. Screw em, and don't sweat it! Once you are relieved of that burden you may be surprised how much easier it is to get up and come into work each day. Look to make things nicer in the office for others, and less prison like.
    Sorry this is so long, just be glad I did not have 5 cups of coffee before I started typing. No one will hold 1 short job stint against you when you say...small family owned company that thought they wanted and HR Manager..........but did not want to do what was needed in some basic compliance areas.......
    My $0.05 worth.
    DJ The Balloonman
  • Wow. You have both made me feel better. At least I don't feel like I am crazy for thinking things aren't right around here. I knew that when I came into the situation, but you start to question yourself when there is no one else to validate your thoughts.

    I report to the VP of sales and Marketing ( I am also the Marketing Director) and to the President and Majority Owner, I am his assistant and HR Director, and now to one of the other owners who serves as the CFO ....because he has decided to cover HR since my hiring - the comptroller also reports to the CFO. (no I not being paid 3 salaries - I am acutally making 1/3 the salary I did just one short year ago).

    I wish I could get out for lunch....but my deal is in at 7:30 and out at 3:30 no lunch no breaks..I have to leave each day at 3:30 to pick up children from school because my compensation is not what is used to be and I couldn't afford to hire back childcare.

    I know I am salaried and I don't punch a clock - never have - I was taking work home like I always have- reading and other projects - but decided not to bother anymore- since they don't care.

    I guess I could leave for lunch - even if just to get something and come back and leave my slim fast and crackers for another day! Maybe I could live a little and get a sandwich!

    ....maybe I can leave for lunch when everyone else is also gone? I've just never had to operate in this manner - it has started to change who I am and how I feel. I tried to have a good attitude and did - except the last two months have been too tough to take.

    I am taking a day off with out pay next Wednesday and then I'll be off Thurs. and Friday I can't wait!

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