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Salary Laws California

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  • Salary Laws California

    I am salary exempt status for a company in California. One division (my division) of the company has been verbally told "everyone must work at least 45 hours per week." Other divisions of the company have not been told this. Is this legal because I am salary? Or, does there have to be a documented need for them requiring the extra five hours per week (old management only required 40 hours and we rarely worked more than that unless there was a project need)?

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Yes, this is legal unless you have a binding employment contract to the contrary. All departments do not have to be treated the same - this is not illegal discrimination.
    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

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    • #3
      Agreed. With very few exceptions, most employers can make most employees work pretty much any hours the employer wants. The common federal exceptions are for things like airline pilots, long haul truckers and minor children employees. The Exempt status or the payment method have no impact at all on the ability of the employer to order mandatory overtime, although the Exempt status does effect whether (and how) that overtime is paid.

      CA rules on mandatory hours worked are slightly more favorable to the employee then the federal ruls but nothing that would help you. The "72 hour" rule is industry specific and the so-called "7 day rule" is functionally restriced to non-exempt employees. To the extent it actually matters, Exempt employees get slightly less protection in this area then non-exempt employees.
      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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      • #4
        The thing you need to remember is that is you are legitimately salaried exempt, the number of hours you work is completely irrelevant. Salaried exempt employees are not paid on the basis of the hours they work; they are paid on the value of their work to the company. There is no significants whatsoever to "40 hours" or "45 hours" or any other number of hours.

        It is also a myth that exempt employees cannot be required to work any particular hours or number of hours. Exempt employees are exempt from overtime rules, and very occasionally minimum wage rules. They are not exempt from any other rules, including company policy about how many or which hours the employee must work.
        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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        • #5
          Reply: Salary in CA Question

          Thanks for all your feedback.

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          • #6
            Additional Info.

            Of note, I do have an e-mail where one manager tells me in writing that I only have to work 40 hours per week. I have nothing in writing from the "head" manager that wants 45 hours a week other than a productivity report that notes it at the bottom. It has been all verbal. If I miss it one week and work only 41 or 42 hours, would this be enough (her verbal request) to fire me per California law? Should I be worried? I am really struggling with getting in those extra five hours per week due to several personal medical and other related issues.

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            • #7
              I don't think you've grasped the situation yet. You can legally be fired in every single state for not working the hours your employer wants you to work, regardless of your exempt status or salary method. You can legally be fired in every state but Montana, and sometimes in Montana, because your employer woke up one morning, said "I'm going to fire someone today", and drew your name out of a hat. You need to find out what hours your manager wants you to work and then work them. There is NO legal significance to 40 hours a week for an exempt employee in ANY state unless a legally binding and enforceable contract (not an email, a contract) specifically says otherwise.

              The only out I can see for you is IF your medical condition meets the definition of a disability under state law AND a reasonable accomodation would include restricting your hours AND you get medical verification from your doctor to that effect AND your employer agrees to provide that reasonable accomodation instead of another one.
              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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              • #8
                Reply

                My manager says I don't have to work anymore than 40 hours per week "due to my situation." Two managers above her says 45 hours per week. My contract just says that I'm "salary, exempt status and that all hours are included in my pay." When I took the position, I did not want to be salary for fear of having to work more than 40 hours a week. I was reassured that this was very, very rare and that I would maybe only have to work more than 40 hours per week once or twice a year. Recently the new director came in and started changing things and said across the board that everyone now has to work 45 hours minimum per week. The medical condition wouldn't qualify me for disability, as it is a combination of my own and my kid's problems.

                What are my chances of being able to switch from salary to hourly (they never pay overtime so all hourly employees only work 40 hours)? I don't care about a pay cut; it isn't about the money at this point. It is about the extra hours due to everything I have going on.

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                • #9
                  Das ist in der Doktor!

                  Originally posted by eatreater View Post
                  My manager says I don't have to work anymore than 40 hours per week "due to my situation." Two managers above her says 45 hours per week. My contract just says that I'm "salary, exempt status and that all hours are included in my pay." When I took the position, I did not want to be salary for fear of having to work more than 40 hours a week. I was reassured that this was very, very rare and that I would maybe only have to work more than 40 hours per week once or twice a year. Recently the new director came in and started changing things and said across the board that everyone now has to work 45 hours minimum per week. The medical condition wouldn't qualify me for disability, as it is a combination of my own and my kid's problems.

                  What are my chances of being able to switch from salary to hourly (they never pay overtime so all hourly employees only work 40 hours)? I don't care about a pay cut; it isn't about the money at this point. It is about the extra hours due to everything I have going on.
                  No one here would have anyway of predicting that.
                  Your immediate supervisor or manager would be the one to ask that question of. If you don't get a favorable reaction then you might want to consider dropping the subject altogether or start looking for a job with hours more to your liking.
                  Good Luck.

                  .._________________
                  ~ Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge. ~ Isaac Asimov
                  Last edited by drruthless; 06-22-2012, 05:56 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by eatreater View Post
                    My manager says I don't have to work anymore than 40 hours per week "due to my situation." Two managers above her says 45 hours per week.
                    What are my chances of being able to switch from salary to hourly (they never pay overtime so all hourly employees only work 40 hours)? I don't care about a pay cut; it isn't about the money at this point. It is about the extra hours due to everything I have going on.
                    Well, at this point, both situations are probably up to the managers above you. There's no way for us to know your chances. The one at the top generally gets to make the rules. If they want 45 hours per week and you only want to work 40, then I would suggest that you start looking outside the box and consider what you could present as alternatives to the big bosses...not your current manager. Because it doesn't sound like your current manager has the authority to overrule those above.

                    I will say that over the years, I have worked a lot of flexible work arrangements. Many times less than 40 hours a week, but always exempt. Instead we came to a mutually agreed upon salary for the number of expected hours. Were there some weeks I worked more? You bet. But in the end the FWA was what allowed me to stay sane as a working mom. So what I would suggest is putting together a proposal about a FWA...and take into account a salary decrease....what would you be willing to sacrifice financially to get the FWA. Of course there are some positions that wouldn't work with a FWA...

                    Another thing to ask as a possibility is working from home/remotely. I literally now work 3 days out of three months in the office and the rest from home. That saves on commute time and dollars. Is your position such that you could propose that?

                    So do what you can to think outside of the box.....it may or may not be successful....but you won't know if you dont' try.

                    Comment

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