Posted by Tamara
There are many misconceptions about salaried and exempt employees and comp time in Alabama.
In order to clarify the issue, it is important to understand just what constitutes an exempt employee.
To be “exempt” means to be outside of, or exempt from, the protection of federal and state overtime laws.
The federal government, through the FLSA, or Fair Labor Standards Act, has created five categories or classes of exempt employees based on responsibilities and the type of work performed. The five classes are Professionals, Executives, Computer Pros, Administrators, and Outside Salespeople.
In addition, an exempt employee earns a salary of at least $455 a week. If an employee falls into one of the five categories above, but earns less than that, he or she is automatically a “non-exempt” employee, meaning his or her job is under the protection of overtime laws.
Exempt employees in Alabama and elsewhere often ask whether they are entitled to comp time when they work more than 40 hours in a given payroll week. “Comp time” means compensatory time off equal to the number of hours over 40. It is usually granted in a subsequent workweek.
The answer is that exempt employees are not legally entitled to comp time. Whether considering Alabama or federal law, employers have the legal right to require an exempt employee to work extra hours without either comp time or overtime. In theory, an employer could legally require an exempt employee to put in 60, 80, or even 120 hours a week without any type of compensation, whether in time or in money. If the employee declines to do so, management is within its legal rights to discipline or terminate that person.
Employers must pay exempt employees their regular pay even in weeks when there is insufficient work to generate 40 hours in a week. If the employee is ready and willing to work a full week, the employer must by law pay the full salary. Otherwise, the employee will be automatically become “non-exempt” and then under the protection of overtime laws.
Employers may not give non-exempt workers comp time in lieu of overtime.
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