Do Salaried Employees Have to Work 40 Hours?

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Universally, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. is the typical time frame during which most workers head to their jobs to do an honest day’s work. But for salaried employees who earn a set annual wage, these hours aren’t always cut and dried. The requirements of the law and individual office norms have a lot more bearing on the actual hours and time salaried employees must invest in their day-to-day jobs.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The hours of work for a salaried employee aren't always cut and dried. The requirements of the law and individual office norms have a lot more bearing on the actual hours and time salaried employees must invest in their day-to-day jobs.

Types of Employees

In most workplaces, employees fall under the category of either being exempt or nonexempt. An exempt employee is not entitled to overtime pay for more than 40 hours worked in a week under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Many employees, specifically those whose work is classified as professional, executive or administrative, and workers who earn more than $455 per week fall under the exempt category. They are paid a regular salary – their income isn’t contingent upon the number of hours worked from day to day.

On the other hand, nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime pay. Overtime usually equals time and a half for these types of employees. The FLSA doesn't specify required sick time, vacation time or personal time for nonexempt employees, though workplaces have the option to offer these benefits.

How Many Hours Salaried Employees Work

Companies should firmly establish in their employee handbooks the rules and stipulations for time off. While the law doesn't require employers to offer paid vacation time, if they choose to offer it as a form of compensation, they should be clear about how vacation and personal time are accumulated, deducted and what should happen once an employee exhausts all vacation and personal days.

Employers of exempt workers can require them to be at work at a certain time and work a certain number of hours so long as they don't veer into the territory of treating them like nonexempt hourly workers. Sick time, disability and predetermined vacations cannot be deducted from an employee's pay. Employers also cannot deduct pay if an employee works less than a full day, whether or not they have any additional allotted vacation time left. Doing so could open up employers to having their employees seen as nonexempt, and therefore entitled to overtime compensation. However, if an employee does take personal time away from work that isn't for sickness or disability, employers can recoup that time by deducting it from an employee's allotted vacation or personal time.

How Employers and Employees Get Their Money's Worth

Companies can recoup time or money lost by making it clear in their employee handbooks that after a certain number of missed hours, employees will see a reduction in their vacation time or other time off. For salaried staff, there is no law regulating exactly how many hours an employer can or should require, so an employer can require additional hours from an employee while still paying them their regular salary. Bosses can also reduce employee hours as needed, as long as they are clear on what constitutes a full-time salaried employee and are responsible about docking hours and compensating employees appropriately.

While 40 hours per week is the norm for salaried employees, workers who earn an annual wage that isn’t dictated by the time they spend in the office should use their best judgment and work as much as they need to in order to submit high-quality work in a timely fashion.

Some workplaces have a corporate culture where salaried employees are expected to work additional hours, like evenings and weekends, for no additional pay. Jobs that require too many hours can be an indication of problematic company practices as can be jobs that don’t require enough hours. While employers establish the standard for an acceptable length of time to work during the day, ensure that you are as efficient as possible and manage your time effectively so that everyone gets what they need.