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Exempt employee is limited to 8-5 North Carolina

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  • Exempt employee is limited to 8-5 North Carolina

    Ok folks. I have heard quite a bit in this lifetime but there's always something new so I'd love your input.

    I have a colleague who works in local government tell me that she was hired in an exempt position (civil engineer). However, her new boss insists on limiting her hours to 8-5. She frequently needs to work longer hours in order to perform all of her duties. She cannot simply take work home since some of the programs she uses is owned by and on specialized equipment at her office. She feels this is negatively impacting her work so she talked with her new boss. He demands she only work 8-5. She asked if that made her non-exempt. I told her I never had this type of thing before but I knew a group of people who probably know the answer. What say ye?

  • #2
    She needs to work whatever hrs. her employer needs/wants her to unless she has a binding employment contract to the contrary.

    Just requiring her to work certain hrs. would not change her from exempt to non-exempt.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

    Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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    • #3
      Exempt vs. non-exempt status is not based on the hours worked. Demanding that she work specific hours does not change her job status.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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      • #4
        This is the opposite of what we usually get asked. Usually an exempt employee wants to know if they can be made to work beyond 8-5 when they don't receive "overtime pay".

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        • #5
          Right - most exempt employees would like "regular" hours.
          Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

          Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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          • #6
            I have heard of this as I work in the public sector as well. Not my department you understand, but yes it does happen for any number of reasons, most of them valid. It is totally legal and right now I'm envious.
            I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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            • #7
              Agreed, and even if the reasons are nonsense, still legal. The boss is not legally required to be competent or explain decisions to the satisfaction of their subordinates.

              Not the question, but who exactly thinks the employee is Exempt? Would DOL agree with this assement? People throw the word Exempt around like it actually means something. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but at the end of the day, the employer's opinion of their employee's Exempt status is just that, an opinion, with no more inherent legal weight then the employer's opinion of who will win the Super Bowl. The only party whose opinion actually matters is the government, generally federal or state DOL. One of many reasons employers get very tough on hours worked is that they are nervous about the accuracy of the so-called Exempt status. It is not unheard of to shut of OT for suspect employees, then a few years later (after statute of limitations has expired) reclass employees to non-exempt.

              Now whether the employee is Exempt, non-exempt, or Mork from Ork, with very few exceptions (mostly related to minor children employees), the employer gets to decide what hours the employee works, period. Exempt status as stated has nothing what-so-ever to do with this. "My way or the highway" is a very well accepted labor law principal, more commonly referred to as Employment At Will. Generally all employer orders are legal, unless some very specific law says that they are not. Worse, all terminations are legal, unless some very specific law says that they are not.
              "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
              Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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              • #8
                civil engineer with license => exempt Professional

                Having a PE license (and doing engineering work, not sweeping floors) would probably be a slam dunk for the Professional exemption. OTOH, if they're not yet licensed (e.g. recent grad, maybe just EIT exam passed), then the professional exemption is less certain. Over the past 10 years, there's been a big trend towards not trying to claim the exemption just because the employee has a degree: it's all that stuff about independence of action, advanced training, etc. Fresh out of school new hires typically are non-exempt for the first few years, no matter what level degree. This mystifies those newly minted PhDs, when they can't go to those international conferences they went to as grad students because now that they are an employee they'd have to be paid for the travel time and time at the conference, and perhaps OT as well if the conference sessions run longer than 8 hours a day.

                Some government and quasi-government orgs tend to be very touchy about work hours, even for exempt employees. I think it might be because they have a mix of non-exempt and exempt doing pretty much the same thing, so the "safe" thing to do is to treat everyone as non-exempt.

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                • #9
                  Good answer.
                  "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                  Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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