Managing exempt employees

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), exempt employees are paid a regular salary and are not paid based on the number of hours worked. They are expected to meet operational needs and are evaluated on results achieved, exercising professional judgment regarding the work that needs to be done and meeting expectations of dependability, conscientiousness, reliability and trustworthiness. For these employees, meeting the responsibilities of the position is emphasized over working a specific number of hours, so they may need to work beyond their usual schedule.

Full-time exempt employees generally are expected to work at least 40 hours each week and as many additional hours as necessary to complete their jobs. Time worked by exempt employees in excess of 40 hours per week will not result in overtime pay or in the accumulation of compensatory time off. However, exceptional circumstances may exist when workload of particular exempt employees may be especially burdensome. During these kinds of exceptional situations, managers may balance a period of heavy workload with a period of reduced workload without regard to the number of hours worked in a particular week. Therefore, managers may allow exempt employees flexibility to recognize working beyond the normal work schedule to perform specific job requirements. Any work schedule flexibility under the circumstances described above is determined mutually by the manager and employee.

This flexibility is intended to balance management’s duty to hold employees responsible and to be fair. However, no policy language can substitute for good management. The cornerstones of the exempt working relationship are clear expectations from the manager, professional accountability of the employee, and good communication between the two.  

An exempt employee may not use flexibility in the work schedule for absences when the employee is paid for work performed outside the employee's regular work unit or outside the university; the employee must use annual leave for such absences.

In addition to being accountable for their work, exempt employees and their managers are also responsible for managing leave benefits. University and Academic Professionals who are exempt employees are expected to track and report time off charged to paid leave in half day increments (4 hours or more) to ensure appropriate accountability and adequate documentation of absences. The Commonwealth of Virginia requires Classified Staff who are exempt employees to report leave in fifteen minute increments.