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Minnesota Exempt Employee Workweek

Posted by Tamara

Many exempt salaried employees in Minnesota have questions about the workweek. What is the standard workweek for a salaried employee?

There is no standard workweek for Minnesota exempt employees under either state or federal law. This matter is determined entirely by company policy. Every employer is permitted to set their own standard workweek for exempt employees. An employer can require that exempt employees work 40, 60 or 80 hours per week, every week and terminate any exempt employee who does not meet that requirement. Or, an employer may permit the exempt employee to set his or her own schedule, coming and going as he or she pleases.

Many Minnesota exempt employees assume that the 40-hour workweek is standard. When they work more than 40 hours in the payroll week, they feel entitled to work fewer than 40 hours in another week without consequences.

Under the federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act, an exempt salaried employee is not entitled to overtime, regardless of how many hours the employee works in the payroll week. However, the exempt employee who works any potion of the payroll week must also be paid his or her full salary for the week.

Suppose Todd usually works 40 hours per week. One week, he works the usual number of days, but only puts in 25 hours. Todd is entitled to his usual weekly salary. (There are some exceptions if the employee misses one or more full days of work due to illness, personal business, FMLA leave or as an accommodation under ADA.)

Many exempt employees assume that this means it is okay for them to come and go as they please, working as many or as few hours per week as necessary to get the job done. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While Todd’s employer must pay his usual salary for the week, Todd can be terminated for not meeting the employer’s minimum expectations for the number of hours worked per week. This is true, even if Todd has accomplished every task the employer set for him that week.

Many exempt employees misunderstand this concept and assume that the 40-hour workweek is the norm. In the employee’s mind, when she works more than 40 hours one week, she is “banking” extra hours or goodwill that can be used to work fewer than 40 hours another week. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Even if the employee works 80 hours every week for 10 years, if the employee works 79 hours one week, he or she can be terminated for not meeting the employer’s minimum standards.


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