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Friday, June 20, 2008

Part Time Exempt

I am an exempt employee, this is not only stated in my written offer letter, but also by the fact that my job specifications include independent authority, hiring and firing influence, and management of a department. I am paid over the weekly minimum amount for exempt status. I am in agreement that my job is that of an exempt employee.

However, I am paid by the hour. I am not expected to work any hours other than 9 to 5 (since my employer is paying me by the hour, they have a specific amount budgeted for my job title). I leave work at 5, even if tasks are not completed, with no adverse effect on my performance rating. They do not ask me to do more than what I can get done in that time period. I also am the only part-time employee, working only 3 days a week.

In addition, I do not receive any paid-time off benefits.

My question is this: should I keep my mouth shut and just enjoy the fact that I have regulated work hours and can leave at 5, even as other co-workers slave away into the night (I'm not eligible for OT, as I'm exempt, and it wouldn't be approved anyway, as they only have limited budget for my position)? Or, should I discuss with my manager the fact that as an "exempt" employee, I should receive company holidays (at least the ones that land on a regularly scheduled work day) because it's affecting my "salary"--which should remain consistent, given that I'm an exempt employee? There's a slight chance this would open the door to a possible "work until the job's done" discussion, but it's not likely.

I believe the fact that I get no paid sick or vacation time is legal, as they classify me as "part-time". Their written PTO policy for full-timers does not apply to me, as I'm a different class (part-time). Correct?


I think you should ask for holiday pay--for the holidays you are scheduled to work. I agree that that seems fair, especially if all other employees get it.

Are they required to give it to you? Well, no. You're right that it cuts into your pay if they don't. This would seem, on it's surface, to go against the principle of exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act. It really doesn't because even though your job could be classified as exempt, how they are acting indicates that it is not. Plus, there are exemptions from the exemption rules (got that?) that allow companies not to pay you for full days not worked.

Now, don't freak out. I haven't just changed your job description on you or said you wouldn't classify for exemption, it's just that by paying you by the hour they have chosen to not treat you as an exempt employee. Now, since your offer letter states you are exempt, could you pitch a fit? Maybe, but I'm not a lawyer nor am I an expert on FLSA.

The only disadvantage to the company for paying you like this is that if something strange happens and you end up putting in more than 40 hours one week, they'll have to pay you overtime. From what you said, this ain't happening.

There are very few professional part time jobs and lots of people who want them. I actually work part time and you should see the line up I have of people wanting to know when I'm going to quit so they can have my job. (Well, they want part time, plus my boss and my department are awesome, plus sometimes I get to travel to New Jersey, and who wouldn't want that?) There are trade-offs to the reduced schedule. You can decide if they are worth it to you, or not.

So, my advice, ask for holiday pay. I would give it to you. But, I'm a soft-hearted part time employee myself. If you don't ask, the answer will be no. If you do ask, the answer might be no, but it might be yes. Keep in mind that no one cares about your pay check like you do.

8 comments:

Catbert is my hero said...

As always, your response is right on the mark. If I am the employer though, unless I really feel I need to keep that person, I am not paying holiday pay to a part-time employee. I would adjust the schedule if possible so that the part-timer gets all of the normal hours.

Angela Williams Duea said...

Your last point is your best - and should be every employees mantra: "no one cares about your paycheck like you do."

HR Wench said...

I'm not an expert in the FLSA either, but here are some tidbits:

1. The FLSA is a federal law. Many states have wage and hour laws that go above and beyond what the FLSA requires. Google your state's name and "wage and hour" to find out more. Remember, the law that is the "most generous" to the employee is the one that takes precedence.

2. You may be interested in the US DOL's opinion letter on a similar situation from earlier this year: http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/opinion/FLSANA/2008/2008_02_14_01NA_FLSA.htm

HR Wench said...

Sorry, let me try reposting the DOL opinion letter link again!
Click here

Anonymous said...

I would ask for a prorated holiday pay. if you work 3 days, 8 times 3 is 24 hours per week,
That is 24/40 hours worked.
so if it was 20 out of 40 hours that would be 1/2 time. so the holiday pay would be for 50% of your normal pay. I have done that in the past for my employees, and it seems fair.


NOTE: Remember holiday pay is not required by law, so anything you get is extra.

Dawn Passaro

SabinB said...

Part of the classification of being an exempt employee means you are paid on a "salary basis" - so if you are being paid hourly - you are not exempt. As a part time employee you may not be entitled to benefits (paid time off) - but if you are exempt - your salary should not change except for very specific reasons. Go to the dol website and click on the link that says overtime security and watch the videos or read the stat sheets on the definition of exempt.

Anonymous said...

Can a person be part-time exempt in this sense? The company pays certain benefits (such as paid vacation, sick leave and medical insurance) to employees working over 36 hours a week. My pay was cut back to half of my previous pay. That violated the minimum wage law in California for salaried exempt. Now it has been adjusted to three quarters so as not to violate the law. However I am called "Part Time" even though I am salaried, not hourly pay. My benefits have been removed. My job description has never changed. I am on call 24/7 to manage and assist more than 60 real estate agents. If the company policy says people working over 36 hours get benefits, can they call me a part time exempt salaried person and not give me benefits?

Anonymous said...

I and many of my professional peers are finding ourselves in the same boat. We are salaried exempt employees who have had our hours cut, with many losing thier benefits. Our company is doing this to cut overhead. I have been researching the law and cannot find whether or not there is a minimum amount of hours that you can work and still be considered exempt. Some of us have been cut so low on our hours that we are below the $455 weekly rate.