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Sick/vacation for salaried employees

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I am an HR admin in our company and I assist the man that does the HR for the company.  We have several salaried employees but there's one specifically, who will call in sick or take a vacation day (or week), but while out, she'll call the office or answer an email then say she worked so she isn't taking sick or vacation time.  I know that as a salaried employee she would get 40 hours regardless, but our company offers 3 sick days per year but she probably takes 9 per year.  The question I have is, is there a law in place that says it's ok for salaried employees to do this?  I've asked our HR guy and he says it's ok (by the way, he's salaried too).  I'm not sure if he has legal grounds for his answer or if it's an unwritten company policy.

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This is mainly a management issue for the company.

If the company believes the employee is abusing her sick leave, or otherwise not working when she claims to be working, then she can be subject to employee discipline or termination of employment.

 

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I have to agree with MiddlePart.  The employee is getting paid full salary each week the government isn't going to care one way or another.  Any issue that could develop would be with owed sick and vacation time.  That could be handled with a memo to the employee that they have exceeded their sick days.

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You're letting the tail wag the dog here. The employee should not be telling you, "I answered this email so I will not take sick time" - you should be telling the employee" You called in sick; therefore you  will be taking sick time and you will not be answering any emails, and you WILL BE disciplined if you disobey". Then discipline her if she disobeys. 

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cbg I totally agree with you and, not that this should matter in any way, but the person in question is the controller of the company and feels like she is in a position to tell management how it is.  This is why I asked the HR guy.  He believes that what she's doing is completely ok.  I found some court case information on SHRM website that deals with this and plan to bring it to his attention.  I haven't taken the time to calculate the cost to the company, but she's been here about 6 years so it's thousands by now.

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I agree with everything that's been said thus far but will offer the following anecdotal info.  My employer's policy is that if you are sick or on PTO (with my employer, the two are treated the same) but you work some amount of time less than four hours, you need only use a half day of PTO and, if you work in excess of four hours, you don't need to use any PTO.  I would not personally take advantage of this simply because I sent or responded to a single e-mail (something which presumably would take no more than a few minutes).  But, as the others have noted, this is a matter of company policy and not a legal issue.  If what this employee is doing is consistent with company policy, then there's no basis to complain about it.  On the other hand, if it's inconsistent with company policy, then the employer needs to inform the employee that what she is claiming is incorrect.  If the policy is ambiguous, then bring it to the attention of the person(s) who make the policy so they can either clarify it or knowingly allow it to remain ambiguous.

 

Before bringing potential irrelevant case authority to the attention of an "HR guy," you might post citation(s) for the case(s) here and let us take a look.

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Okay, it wasn't clear to me that your HR manager is permitting this. While I think it's a bad precedent, it's also not a violation of any laws. If your management team has decided to permit this, it may be a expensive lesson for them to eventually learn, but they MAY permit it; they just don't HAVE to permit it.

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Yes. Salaried exempt employees MAY be required to use PTO for a partial day. However, there is nothing in either state or Federal law that says salaried exempt employees MUST be required to use PTO for a partial day. Or a full day. I don't agree with your management's decision but it's not a violation of anything except possibly their own policy. There's nothing we can tell you here that you can use to force them to stop the practice.

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As an assistant, you also may not be privy to all the details of her situation. There can be good reasons to allow this employee to do what they are doing. Challenging the legal management decisions made by others in authority without all the facts can be a career limiting move. You have asked about it and been told it is known and allowed. It is legal. I'd strongly consider dropping it.

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