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May an employer require an exempt employee to record hours and work a specified schedule?

Yes. The Department of Labor (DOL) states in the 2004 overtime exemptions preamble to the final regulations that employers may require exempt employees to record and track hours and to work a specified schedule: “We agree that employers, without affecting their employees’ exempt status, may take deductions from accrued leave accounts; may require exempt employees to record and track hours; may require exempt employees to work a specified schedule; and may implement across-the-board changes in schedule under certain circumstances.”

Employers should understand that, except under limited circumstances, deducting from an exempt employee’s pay for hours not worked violates the Fair Labor Standards Act. Although it is acceptable to track exempt employees’ time, it is, in most cases, not acceptable to deduct from their pay for hours not worked. See DOL Fact Sheet #17G for “Circumstances in Which the Employer May Make Deductions from Pay” for more guidance.

Relative to working a specified schedule, exempt employees can be scheduled in any way the employer sees fit, assuming any state meal, break, or day-of-rest laws applying to exempt employees are followed. In addition, exempt employees can be held to working a certain number of hours per week. 

Again, the issue is that these employees cannot have their pay docked if they do not work those hours. However, failing to adhere to their specified work schedule can be addressed as a disciplinary issue.


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