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New Jersey Exempt Employee Workweek

Posted by Tamara

Exempt employees in New Jersey often believe that the 40 hour workweek is the standard or the norm, and that if they work more than that they have the right to work fewer hours in another week.

This is a misconception, however. An employer may establish any number of hours per week as the number required from exempt employees, whether that is 40, 50, or even, theoretically, 80 hours. Any employee could be legally disciplined or even terminated for not meeting the minimum. Employers may “allow” exempt employees to set their own schedules, coming and going at their convenience. Management is not required to do so.

The common notion among exempt employees in New Jersey is that when they work more than 40 hours in a week they are putting the extra hours in their “time bank,” to be drawn on in later weeks by working fewer hours. Nothing could be further from the truth. If an employer has even required an employee to work 80 hours a week for 10 years, the worker could be fired for working a 70 hour week.

There is no standard workweek for the New Jersey exempt employee, then, and employers may set the number of hours required. An “exempt” employee is one who is not covered by, or exempt from, the protections of labor laws establishing 40-hour weeks and overtime pay.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, has determined that exempt employees are not legally entitled to overtime regardless of how many hours they may work in a week. However, the law also states that if an exempt employee works just a portion of a payroll week, he or she must be paid the full salary, assuming management allows for the shorter week.

Todd, for example, typically works 40 hours a week. During one week he only works 25 hours. He is nevertheless entitled to his full paycheck.

That does not mean Todd can come and go as he chooses, working whatever hours it takes to get a job done. Even if Todd finishes all his required tasks in 20 hours, he is not entitled to work just 20 hours. 




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