Most employees like flexibility in their hours at work, and most employers are happy to accommodate them. This is especially true in small businesses and offices of professionals. So how do most small businesses handle an employment situation where an employee wants to take off 2 or 3 hours to attend a special school function for a child? Or where an employee needs to take an elder parent to the doctor in the morning, and can’t come in to the office until the afternoon?
That’s simple. Most businesses don’t dock the employee’s pay; instead, they give the employee a chance to make up the hours on another day during that pay period. The result? The business is family friendly, the employee isn’t faced with an unpleasant choice of a salary reduction or using a full day of vacation, and everyone is happy.
Ah, but there’s a little-known burr under that saddle. The Fair Labor Standards Act does not allow such flexibility.
The FLSA provides that no employee can work more than 40 hours per week without receiving overtime pay of one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate. This is true for both salaried and hourly employees (note that there are some exceptions for white-collar and upper management).
Thus, if the employee makes up his or her hours at a time that does not fall within the same week of the “time-off,” the employer is penalized by having to pay a premium for those hours.
That’s right – the law doesn’t say the employee is allowed to make up the time within the same pay period (usually a two week period). No, it has to be made up within the same work week.
Small businesses and professional offices are often caught by surprise when they find out that overtime must be paid even when the employee puts in the make-up hours during the same pay period, but not within the same week. It doesn’t take long for a small business to realize that it can’t agree to an employee’s request without being financially penalized.
That leaves the employer with four choices. Say no to the employee, dock the employee’s pay, get cheated out of the time, or pay a penalty of time and a half for allowing the employee to tend to family business.
And that’s the law.
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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advic