Q: What is the minimum amount of time that an exempt employee must work to be credited for the entire day?
A: If an exempt employee does any work, they must be paid for the full day—there is no minimum. For instance, if the employee came to the office for the first 15 minutes of their usual 8-hour day, then went home sick, they would be entitled to their full pay for that day.
The only exceptions to the Full-Pay-for-Partial-Day rule is during the employee’s first or last week of employment, when the employer is offsetting amounts received for civil service like jury duty or military leave, or when the employee is taking unpaid leave under FMLA.
Employers can, however, use an employee’s paid time off to fill in the gaps. So, if that employee had paid time off available in their PTO bank, the employer could use a partial day of that time to cover their absence. But if the employee was out of paid time off (or was never offered any), the employer would still owe them for the full day.
The exempt versus non-exempt employee classification issue continues to be a common area of confusion among employers, and it’s important for you to know and follow the rules for paying workers.