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Can my employer dock my pay?

Q: I am an accountant for a franchise owner and I am salaried. I understand that this means being exempt from the time clock, overtime, etc. There are times when I might work over the weekend or past the normal business day. My manager tells me there is no such thing as comp time and even that it is against the law to allow time off for extra time worked. This is the first I've heard of such nonsense.

Are there laws on this subject for salaried employees? I've missed one day in the last six months, and I was docked a day's pay. How do you take away a day of earnings from someone who is salaried, while not allowing them to be compensated for extra time worked when you are not eligible to earn overtime?

My job may be in jeopardy if I approach the owner. I'd appreciate some advice on what the appropriate channels are.

A: I'll advise you to the extent I can since I'm not a lawyer and I don't know which state you work in.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) governs the exemption status for U.S. employees. The law is geared toward employees who are not exempt from the law, i.e., those who are eligible for overtime pay etc. If you miss a day of work, your company can dock your pay for those hours. To the best of my knowledge there are no federal laws requiring employers to pay exempt employees compensatory ("comp") time if they work more than 40 hours.

Nevertheless, I would encourage you to speak with your state employment office or the equivalent state-run Department of Labor to determine whether you have other options if your company is requiring you to work more than 40 hours a week.

Since this issue is touchy with your company, I would advise you to speak with a lawyer who is not only familiar with federal legislation regarding FLSA, but also aware of any state statues that may accommodate your concerns.

Good luck.