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What does it mean to be a salaried employee?

Posted by Roni F. Noland  February 13, 2009 07:00 AM

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Q: I accepted a job, which is salaried, so I don't get paid for any overtime. I accepted the job (out of financial necessity) at a lower rate than I normally would have accepted. After a year of working there, my initial impression of being on salary is very different from what the reality is. If I have to leave a half-hour early or late I am docked, but I work about 3-7 hours of OT each week. If a meeting comes up before or after work, I am required to go, and it can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. I have addressed some of the issues with my manager, but have not received a response. Any suggestions for how to approach this at my annual review so that I can request a proper salary increase? Or perhaps some guidance for a more realistic view of being a salaried employee?

A: An annual review is an opportunity to reflect on your accomplishments during the past year and to set some mutually agreed upon goals for the coming year. If you showcase your contributions to the company, this should help you earn the highest raise that your company is now able to provide, and bring you closer to your desired salary level. Resist complaining the whole time about your salary and the lack of overtime. In fact, before you even mention your concerns, you need to understand a bit more about the two main types of salaried employees and the complex regulations that govern overtime.

Many employers assume incorrectly that salaried employees are exempt from earning overtime pay, but that’s not always true. Let me explain. Only white-collar employees who meet the following three-part overtime exemption test are ineligible to receive overtime pay:

1. The worker’s primary job responsibilities are executive, administrative or managerial in nature;
2. The employee is paid a guaranteed fixed salary, regardless of variations in hours worked;
3. The employee’s salary level is at least $455/week or the equivalent
says Dan Field, a partner with Morgan, Brown & Joy, LLP.

If your job meets all three criteria of the overtime exemption test, your employer does have the right to require you to attend – without additional pay - meetings that occur outside of regular business hours. Also, your employer should not be docking your pay if you come in late or leave early. (“Docking” does not mean deductions from your bank of paid time off - e.g., personal, vacation, and/or sick time.)

If, on the other hand, your job fails to meet all three of the criteria above, your employer must pay you time-and-a-half (overtime) for any hours you work in excess of 40 hours in a given week. In addition, your employer may dock you if you come in late or leave work early.

If your employer denies you overtime while simultaneously docking you for schedule variations, you may want to contact an employment attorney or the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division Hotline, at 617-727-3465, to file a complaint.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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11 comments so far...
  1. Is this true for Connecticut also?

    Posted by Robert February 14, 09 01:34 PM
  1. I cannot believe that in today's economic crisis, ANYONE who is fortunate to have a job would have the nerve to complain. I'll bet there are dozens of others who would gladly step into the writer's shoes and be grateful to get a paycheck every week.

    Posted by Gail Boyce February 14, 09 06:15 PM
  1. "I cannot believe that in today's economic crisis, ANYONE who is fortunate to have a job would have the nerve to complain."

    That's the kind of attitude that bad bosses love, that opens the door for abuse. The state of the economy doesn't change what's right and what's wrong.

    Posted by Nebules February 16, 09 10:23 AM
  1. Hello Gail Boyce:
    So are you saying that an employee has to tolerate any and all actions and policies from an employer just to make even less money than in a previous job? if we follow your line of thinking, it would logically end at indentured servitude. After all, shouldn't people be grateful to have any subsistence living at all when compared perhaps to the lives of people in the streets of Mumbai? It is the reasoning of people like you who are condemning Americans to a live of diminishing expectations. People like YOU are ruining this country. Be ashamed. Be very ashamed.

    Posted by Joan February 16, 09 10:26 AM
  1. Robert,
    Yes this should also be true of Connecticut ,or any other state for that matter, unle the state in question has a law that offers more benefits to employees. What the writer describes is the "Fair Labor Standard Act " (FLSA), which is a federal law. It's not uncommon to find that a state law would offer even more benefits to the employee, in which case the state law should supersede FLSA.

    Posted by Anonymous February 16, 09 09:54 PM
  1. It seems to me that every engineering job that isn't "management" should receive OT even if they are salaried. If that is true then virtually every job out there is getting the shaft.

    Posted by David C Slocum February 17, 09 06:35 AM
  1. The cold hard reality is that when you are salaried, you have to accept whatever the boss is dishing out with respect to expectations for workload and hours worked per week. The only option you have is to quit. When the economy recovers, people that are being underpaid will vote with their feet. And then their employers can sit around and complain about how "disloyal" the workers are. What goes around comes around. For now...many of us have to suck it up and deal with employers bidding down wages and asking slaried employees t do more with less salary. I'm unemployed and trying to get a job that pays me $20,000/year less than what I got before my layoff. It is my only option after 3 months of looking for work. NObody else is hiring. Yes, it sucks, but it's what I have to do to survive, so I do it. But you'd better believe I will be out the door in a New York minute if and when a better opportunity arises. Eventually, it will.

    Posted by StarboardLean February 17, 09 08:17 AM
  1. Davic C. Slocum and Starboard Lean: A common mistake that people make is not to differentiate between "salaried" and "exempt" employees. A first line supervisor for example could be a salaried employee and still be be eligible for time. That's why the language that is used in the FLSA is "exempt employees" and "non exempt employee." The "cord hard reality" that StarboardLean refers to covers "exempt employees"

    StarboardLean, I share your sentiments. Trust me, I am in the same situation as you are right now. Nog just in terms of money, but also in terms of status. Oh well, that life!

    Posted by Anonymous February 17, 09 11:49 AM
  1. In today's economy, we aught to suspend all laws protecting employees, focusing instead on helping business take full and unfair advantage of those of us lucky enough to be in their employ. We should also drop truancy and child labor laws, as well as minimum wage, so that Gail Boyce can get rich on the backs of others.

    Posted by Gail Boyce February 18, 09 09:47 AM
  1. "I cannot believe that in today's economic crisis, ANYONE who is fortunate to have a job would have the nerve to complain..."

    Rotten people like you give determinism a bad name. It is not from sheer luck or lack thereof that most of us got to where we are now. Our decisions are our own fortune. We make our own successes and failures. No one on their death bed is going to say "I should have felt more fortunate" when times were rough. They are going to say "I should have lived a better life".


    Posted by David February 18, 09 02:54 PM
  1. Yes, many employees in jobs like engineering ARE, in fact, being given the shaft. And we have the H1-V system to thank for it, along with labor laws that do not support labor. Besides voting with their feet in good times, workers should be voting with their ballots all the time. Also, I can assure you that employers of all stripes are more than willing to violate labor laws, and will retaliate if you mention it. If you are planning to leave at some point in the near future (they really can't fire you for doing this, particularly if you do it with witnesses/paper trail) go ahead.
    Just be aware that when raise/bonus time comes around, you're going to be getting the short end of the stick.

    Posted by muppetgirl February 23, 09 01:19 PM
 

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