Define Work for Salaried Employees

I have a dilemma about salaried employees and what constitutes actual compensable work.   My specific scenario is that last week, a salaried employee called in to say that his basement had flooded and that he would not be coming in to work.  I advised that he submit an application for annual leave.  The employee countered by saying that although he was not at work, he monitored his email for a few hours in the morning while he was cleaning out his basement, and therefore he should be paid for the day.  When asked what it meant to monitor his email, he replied that he checked to see if any important messages had come in.  

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How does one define and quantify actual work for employees on salaried status, especially after the fact?


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  • I would really like to know if you found out more about this subject? I am in the same boat.. [:S]
  • Several thoughts come to mind. The first one: is your question concerning exempt or non-exempt salaried employees? The salary  test for exempt employees can be found at 29cfr541.118. 541.212 and 541.312. The test does not include specific job responsibilities but does include the role or function of the position to qualify for exemption.

     Second is that the issues that you are having should be addressed by company policy. Exempt salaried employees that abuse company policy on work time cannot have pay deducted but can be disciplined under your work time policy as long as everyone similarly situated receives the same outcome. It is a permissible deduction for exempt salaried employees who are out a full day or more for personal reasons other than an accident or they are ill.

    The employee's primary reason for his absence, as stated by him,  was that his basement had flooded not that he was at home specifically to monitor his email for work purposes.  Going back to look/glance  at his computer screen while primarily concentrating on completing his personal task and real reason for being absent is hardly 'working'. Would you allow this person at the work site to build a kitchen cabinet and occasionally look/glance at his computer for a possible email and call it work? Obviously not. See any difference?

    Having enforcible policies in place is your key. Could be that it will not help this situation but it could help avoid problems in the future.

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