Will my employer's cost-cutting measure end up costing them money?
December 17, 2010 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Workfilter. In California, can a salaried/exempt employee agree to work and be paid for one day of work during a week-long unpaid furlough?

My employer, after announcing a companywide one-week unpaid furlough, is asking me and some other salaried/exempt employees to voluntarily come in for one day during the furlough week, for which we'd get one day's pay. I personally don't have a problem with this, since I'm cashing in vacation days to make up for the lost pay, and I'd rather lose one less vacation day (and have less of a backlog of work when I get back), but this link http://blog.laborlawcenter.com/2009/02/11/exempt-employee-furlough-and-fairpay-regulations/ and other Googling seems to indicate that salaried exempt employees have to be furloughed for an entire week.

Our HR functions are outsourced to a payroll company, so there's not really an HR rep I can ask about this. I mentioned this to my manager and he seems to think that as long as we don't do any work other than the day we come in, everything's fine. I'm concerned that my employer is setting themselves up for an FSLA violation.

(Possibly relevant details - Tech company in California, does business worldwide, and most employees are salaried with no tracking of hours worked and frequently work over 8 hours a day/40 hours a week. And yes, I know that that all of the above don't bode well and I should probably start updating my resume)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total)
You're reading the reg correctly. They can do what they want, and as long as no one narks on them, that's that. But yes, that would be a violation of FLSA. If that's a risk they're comfortable taking, that's their problem. I personally would not allow my company to take that risk with a California employee base.

But yep - time to move on.
posted by pomegranate at 12:43 PM on December 17, 2010

I used to work in HR in California, and it is true that if an exempt employee works any part of the week, he or she is supposed to be paid for the entire week.
posted by something something at 1:16 PM on December 17, 2010

There is an opinion letter here that turned around the previous interpretations by the DSLE about furloughs as they related to exempt employees- this was dated August of last year. Up until then, it was ALWAYS true that you had to pay an exempt employee for the whole week if they worked at all.
posted by Zophi at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2010

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous:
As Zophi says, the interpretation has changed within the past year or so. I work for the University of California, and the rules for exempt employees (as shown here - http://www.ucop.edu/atyourservice/administrators/employment/furlough/fur_days.html) say that furlough must be taken in one-day units. The arrangement the OP's employer is proposing doesn't sound shady at all, IMO.
posted by jessamyn at 9:08 PM on December 17, 2010

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