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June 08, 2011
Exempt Employee Compensation Under FMLA Laws

In a BLR webinar entitled "Leave Management: The Rx for Dealing with Pesky Intermittent Leave Headaches," Drew L. Alexis, Esq., SPHR, Of Counsel with the Los Angeles-based Kinaga Law Firm, explained compensation policies for exempt employees on intermittent or reduced leave schedule.

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  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave is generally unpaid.
  • Salaried executive, administration, professional or computer employees given unpaid FMLA leave do not lose the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemption.
  • Salary deductions can be made.

So what are the options when a salaried employee needs to take FMLA leave?

  • Convert to an hourly employee during the FMLA leave period.
  • A better option is to make appropriate adjustments to the salary on the basis of the employee's regular workweek and hourly rate. Apply the hourly rate to the missed hours in the workweek:
    • What is the hourly rate?
    • Is it typically communicated to the exempt employee? (Here is where a good offer letter is helpful.)
    • If not, look to pay statement.
    • Consider referencing it in the written agreement regarding hours.
  • The problem that presents itself is that exempt employees typically do not keep a record of hours worked.
  • The solution is either to track the exempt employee's hours or agree on the employee's normal schedule or average hours worked each week and reduce agreement to writing.

Drew L. Alexis, Esq., SPHR is Of Counsel with Los Angeles-based Kinaga Law Firm (www. kinagalawfirm.com). He represents management in a wide range of employment disputes before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including in the areas of leave of absence management, discrimination, harassment and retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage and hour (both individual and representative and class actions).

Need help staying on top of critical HR and Compensation issues? See all the webinars BLR has to offer.

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