I manage an exempt employee (University and Academic Professional) who is not reporting leave for time away from work stating she’s using the “half day” in the university leave policy that she’s entitled to. Is that allowed under the new leave policy?
In the university leave plan, exempt University and Academic Professionals typically only report leave time for absences of a half day (four hours) or greater. Non-routine or occasional absences of less than half a day (four hours) are considered incidental and not reportable. However, those four hours are not an entitlement and are subject to review by the employee's manager. Under the federal 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. While a standard work week for full-time exempt employees may be established based on a 40-hour schedule, they are expected to work as many additional hours as necessary to complete their jobs. It’s not unusual for exempt employees to work well beyond that typical schedule and when they do, the additional hours are not tracked, they do not result in overtime pay or in compensatory time off. The four hour reporting increment is designed to reflect the flexibility of an exempt employee’s work schedule and to help balance the demands of these additional expectations. It is important to keep in mind that the policy limits these non-reportable absences to “incidental,” “non-routine” or “occasional.” Regular or scheduled absences such as twice-aweek physical therapy appointments or time off every other Friday afternoon are reportable as leave under the policy. Assume in all cases, the exempt employee is a University and Academic Professional with a typical work schedule of Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For example:
It’s important to note in the examples above, even if the time away does not meet the threshold for leave reporting, the employee still must inform their manager of their absence. Also note, the four-hour reporting increment only applies to University and Academic Professionals under the VCU “university leave” plan. The Commonwealth of Virginia requires Classified Staff who are exempt employees to report leave in 15-minute increments. While any work schedule flexibility under the circumstances described above is ideally determined mutually by the manager and employee, ultimately, it is management’s duty to hold employees responsible and to be fair. There is no policy language that 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.