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Q&A: Can We Give Exempt Employees an Unpaid Day Off?

The Fair Labor Standards Act generally requires that exempt employees – employees who are exempt from the law’s overtime requirement – be paid their regular salary regardless of the number of hours they work in a workweek. If your exempt employees are otherwise working the week of the holiday, you can’t designate it as an unpaid day for them.

As with nonexempt employees, you can require exempt employees to use accrued vacation or paid time off (PTO) to cover the closure. However, exempt employees who don’t have accrued vacation or PTO available to cover the day off still need to be paid during the closure unless they didn’t perform any work during the workweek. If you intend to require the use of PTO or vacation to cover closures, you should explain that in your handbook or policies so employees know what to expect.

This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

Answer from Celine, SHRM-CP:
Celine has over a decade of customer service experience under her belt, including healthcare and food service expertise. She’s fluent in French and proficient in Spanish, making her nearly trilingual. Céline serves on the board of a non-profit that organizes a citywide music festival. She loves spending her time exploring the outdoors, playing with her nieces and nephews, and cooking.

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