Samford University

Manager's Toolbox Wage-Hour Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between exempt and non-exempt?
Exempt employees are exempt from overtime, paid by the job not by the hour. Non-exempt employees are not exempt from overtime; therefore, they are paid by the hour and are eligible for overtime.
How is a person determined exempt?
The duties of the job are compared to one of four tests prescribed by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The job duties must meet the standards set by one of these tests for the job to be considered exempt.
What records must be kept on non-exempt employees?
There are 12 items that payroll must keep in the pay records on non-exempt employees but the one item generated by the employee is the daily starting and stopping times.
An hourly (non-exempt) employee has agreed to work on a special project or event. How can I pay this employee?
Because hourly employees are subject to Department of Labor regulations, their exact hours must be documented for payment.  These hours must be considered in combination with regular hours worked in computing overtime and the overtime rate of pay.  You may not pay an hourly employee a "flat rate" for  working on a project even though both parties may be agreeable to this arrangement; it is a violation of federal law. Please contact the Payroll Office for assistance in specific cases prior to engaging employees to work on special projects or events.
How precise should the starting and stopping time records be for non-exempt employees?
The wage hour regulations state that the records must reflect the employee's actual starting and stopping times, i.e., the times an employee begins work, starts and stops a lunch hour, and leaves for the day.
What records must be kept on exempt employees?
None that are generated by the employee. For the purpose of record keeping for Samford benefits, exempt employees must report the use of paid leave.
Must non-exempt employees be paid for training or meetings that are held after hours?
Yes, if the meeting or training is required for the employee, or if the employee's non-attendance at the meeting or training would have an impact on his/her job. Only if the meeting or training is 100% voluntary where the employee's non-attendance would have no impact on his/her job would pay for the time not be required.
Are we required by the Fair Labor Standards Act to give employees breaks or meal breaks?
There are no provisions in the FLSA for breaks of any kind nor are their any Alabama state laws that provide breaks. (Obviously we do want employees to be rested and refreshed for work so we do allow meal breaks, etc.) The FLSA covers only the payment of breaks so that breaks of less than 20 minutes are on the clock and breaks of 20 minutes or longer can be off of the clock (non-compensable).
If a non-exempt employee eats at his/her work station during a meal break, is that compensable or non-compensable time?
We would have to pay the employee for that time. Breaks that are supposed to be off of the clock must be away from the work station so that the employee will not be interrupted or perform any work (such as answering the phone).
Who is paid overtime?
Non-exempt (hourly) employees who work in excess of 40 hours in a 7 day period (Sunday through Saturday) are paid time and one-half times their hourly rate for the hours worked in excess of 40.
An employee, of his/her own free will, comes in early, takes a short lunch hour, stays late, and as a result, incurs overtime. Does the overtime have to be paid?
Yes, if you allow an employee to work he/she must be paid. However, managers can and must control the workplace and the hours worked by employees.
What if the employee comes in because he/she wants to and does no work-just to avoid traffic, read the paper, drink coffee, etc. Is that compensable time that could lead to overtime?
No. It is not compensable time as long as the employee is not preparing the workplace for work or performing any work.
If an employee works over 40 hours in a 7 day period can he/she be given comp time and a half in lieu of time and a half dollars?
No, there is no such thing as comp time and a half (except in the public sector and we are not in the public sector).
When is the use of comp time legal?
Only when the comp time is used within the 7 day period in which it is earned. For example, an employee works 8 hours a day Monday through Wednesday and 10 hours on Thursday. Comp time (hour for hour) of 2 hours could then be used on Friday to avoid time and a half pay. If the employee had worked 8 hours Monday through Thursday and 10 hours on Friday, the comp time could not be used and overtime must be paid. The comp time cannot be carried over from one seven day period to the next.
What about comp time for exempt (salaried) employees?
There is no such thing as comp time for exempt employees. Exempt employees are not paid by the hour and any accounting of their work by the hour could violate their exemption.
Do all hours count toward the computation of overtime?
Only actual hours worked count toward overtime. Any kind of paid leave does not.
Can requiring an employee to work overtime be made mandatory?
Can employees volunteer to work off of the clock?