What to do about forced vacation or time off for exempt salaried employees?

Our company has initiated a “Summer Schedule”. During these months, the company will close every Friday (8 days total). Employees have the option to use accrued PTO (vacation) hours or take the 8 days unpaid. Can this be legally done for exempt salaried employees? I thought that if any work was performed during the week the employee must be paid the entire week’s wages. I know forced shut-downs are common in today’s times but I thought that exempt employees still had to be paid for the full week even if only 4 days are worked.

Asked on June 27, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This is a common misconception: while salaried employees may not be docked pay for missing part of a day, if they do not work any entire day (including due to employer shut down), they do not have to be paid for that day. Another way to look at it: if you do not have an employment contract guarantying days and/or pay, you are an employee at will and your employer could simply redefine your position as one that works 8 days less and is paid the equivalent of 8 days less salary, just like it could alternately have simply reduced your salary while requiring you to work full time. (i.e. by at least letting you not work those days, it's treating employees at will better than it has to.)

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