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Ask the Attorney Archives

Is it OK to dock a nonexempt’s salary if the hours just aren’t put in?

Q: “We have a nonexempt salaried employee who is required to work 40 hours a week. She rarely works overtime, but when she does she gets 1.5 times her hourly rate. My question is, if she works less than 40 hours in a week, does not have any PTO left and does not make the time up, can we dock her salary?” – Maria, West Virginia

Can we charge administrative fees when employees create a burden on payroll?

Q: “Can the company legally assess an administrative fee to employees who have been issued a corporate credit card and have been told in writing that the card is to be used for business purposes only, yet continue using it for personal purposes? It means the accounting department must adjust their regular paycheck to deduct the monies used for personal expenses.” – MK, Oklahoma

How do I handle this tricky information exchange between my old and new employer?


Q: “I have a job offer and the employer wants to know the start date of my prior job. The problem is that my old job’s HR department determined my start date from the time I received benefits, while I was technically employed prior to receiving benefits as a trainee with a reduced salary. I sent my prospective employer an old email that documented the training start date from a former supervisor—is this sufficient to prove the earlier start date? Does my new employer have the right to contact my former supervisor regarding this matter without my permission? My old supervisor isn’t the easiest person to speak with, which is why I hope the email is fine.” – Fred, Massachusetts

Salesperson leaves the company owing money–is his draw fair game for a deduction?


Q: “We are considering changing our compensation plan for account managers. Scenario: Employee will receive a monthly set salary in advance and also earn a commission on sales. However, if the employee’s commission does not equal the set salary, the company will deduct the difference of the commission from the salary that is paid in advance. If the employee should leave employment while owing the company the difference mentioned above, are there any laws that would prevent the company from deducting the owed amount from the employee’s accrued but unused vacation time that would be paid out at the time of the resignation?” – M.J., Oklahoma

Must we pay employees for time spent filling out new hire paperwork?

Q: “Should employees completing new hire paperwork be paid for that time, even if it is before their official start date?” – Geri, Idaho

New job title, but same pay–could it be perceived as a demotion?

Q: “We are reviewing our job descriptions. If a title is changed from Assistant HR Director to HR Tech but there is no change in pay, might it be considered a demotion?” – Patricia, Florida

Employee may be using FMLA leave for years to come–how often can we request an updated certification?

Q: “If an employee has requested lifelong, intermittent FMLA leave (worked one year, and worked over 1,250 hours in preceding 12 months), can an employer make a request for updated medical certification once per year? The employee continues to work at least 1,250 hours in a rolling calendar period.” – Anne, Minnesota

Can we obligate staff to use direct deposit?

Q: “For employees who are paid hourly in the state of Massachusetts, can we ask them to enroll in direct deposit with a bank to cut down on the company expenses, or is that illegal?” – Diane, Massachusetts

Do we need to give employees travel pay if they cut their trip short?

Q: “I have employees that are required to be on long-term assignments two or three weeks at a time. To save money, I put employees up in a hotel (which is paid for) and they receive a per diem. In some cases, they are required to stay the weekend to save on travel costs. If I have a policy set up that an employee must stay in a hotel (paid for by the company) because the travel distance is too far (more than 250 miles) and the employee refuses to stay and drives home instead, am I required to pay them travel pay and mileage?” – Kristin, Pennsylvania

Can seasonal employees collect unemployment benefits?

Q: “Can seasonal employees collect unemployment benefits?” – Helen, New Jersey