Salary or Hourly?

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Comments (38)

Lane in San Diego, California

70 months ago

Hello all -

I've been an EA for at least 20 years. My current employer, whom I have worked for for almost 10 years, hired me as salaried, exempt (not eligible for overtime). Well a year or so ago my employer reviewed all positions and correctly classified me as non-exempt (eligible for OT), but insisted that I had to be hourly in this category. Coming from HR in my previous position (where I was salaried, non-exempt)I knew that EA's in CA are supposed to be classified as non-exempt, but I also know that one can be both non-exempt and salaried (which means being paid OT for anything over 40 hours per week rather than 8 per day).

Personally, I feel that a high-level EA position should not be hourly. We don't punch in and punch out at the end of the day and are done with it. I often take my laptop home to work and finish up things and I'm responsible to help the people I support do their jobs and they work long hours. I sort of resent having to be "on the clock" and having to go unpaid or use personal sick/vacation time if I have to leave early for a doctors appointment, etc.

We are going to a new, advanced payroll system in the next few months and I'm planning on to discuss my concerns regarding this to our HR manager but I'm not sure what the "status quo" is anymore regarding EA positions. How many of you, who support high level execs and CEO's are hourly verses salaried? I'd love your input, and I promise I'll report back on my results once I talk with HR :-)

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MollyElise in Arlington, Virginia

70 months ago

I've always seen Executive Assistants as Exempt... I have been for a long time.

If you were to be non-exempt you should be hourly, on a time clock. Which very likely will give you more $$ than being exempt.

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Coleen in Arlington, Texas

70 months ago

I too am hourly and support a c-level. This is the first job (have been employed for 3 years) that I have had to "punch a clock" since I started as a receptionist almost 20 years ago. I resent it too, but my company also told us that our positions qualify us as non-exempt. I have been trying to get this changed, but no one will work with me, including my boss and HR.

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Lane in San Diego, California

70 months ago

Thanks for your inputs. The Co. I worked with as salaried/non-exempt was a very, very large company. I'm thinking smaller and medium sized companies just don't want to deal with the extra calculations involved with salaried/non-exempt so they go with hourly to make it easier on them. I work for a mid-sized Co. and our VP of HR is fairly new but so far seems pretty open and has been successful in making a lot of changes already so I'm keeping my fingers crossed I can talk them in to looking at this issue.

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Nico in New York, New York

69 months ago

Im salaried and I receive OT. I do have to submit my time weekly though.

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mari in Fremont, California

68 months ago

I'm an EA in San Jose, CA and support a c-level executive for an 8 billion dollar company. When I was hired about 2 yrs ago, I was initially classified as exempt (no OT). Shortly after accepting the offer, they changed it changed it to non-exempt due to the reasons stated in this forum about a review of positions and the result was a reclassification in order to be compliant. I am aware a few EAs supporting the CEO and COO who are exempt. I support an SVP (non board member) so I'm not sure if the reason why my position and others similiar to my executive are non-exempt vs. exempt. Regardless of CEO/COO and board member vs. SVP (non board member), our jobs essentially the same in nature. So it doesn't make sense to me. I also resent "punching in and out" as it it true that as EAs, we are on call all the time during off hours. I do get some flexibility for this "off time" but would rather be exempt because it is a pain when you need to leave early for an appt and it just doesn't reflect the true nature of our jobs. HOWEVER, due to my executive requiring in office coverage for about 9 - 9.5 hrs per day, I am in a way glad that I'm hourly because I get close to 5 hrs per week of OT pay which works out to be about $10-12K per year. If it were an option though, I would rather get the extra $$ in my base salary and be exempt. I do think the bigger the company, the more non-exempt EAs there are just because they are under more scrutiny than smaller or private companies.

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mari in Fremont, California

68 months ago

Some have posted that they are "salaried" and receive OT as well. I don't see how this is possible. Either your are "salaried" which means "exempt" OR you are "hourly" which means "non-exempt." How are people both?

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Monique in New Jersey

68 months ago

mari in Fremont, California said: Some have posted that they are "salaried" and receive OT as well. I don't see how this is possible. Either your are "salaried" which means "exempt" OR you are "hourly" which means "non-exempt." How are people both?

I am an Exec Assistant both "non-exempt" and "salaried". This makes no sense to me. I have a set salary and record only overtime. If I have no over time one week (which never happens supporting an O-level Executive) there is no time recorded - I'm just paid my set salary. I'm paid twice a month instead of weekly. Overtime pay includes after hours and weekends. Sr. Assistants and lower are "non-exempt" weekly paid employees in my corporation. I don't understand it, but I'm not complaining.

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michaelg in Camarillo, California

64 months ago

Monique in New Jersey said: I am an Exec Assistant both "non-exempt" and "salaried". This makes no sense to me. I have a set salary and record only overtime. If I have no over time one week (which never happens supporting an O-level Executive) there is no time recorded - I'm just paid my set salary. I'm paid twice a month instead of weekly. Overtime pay includes after hours and weekends. Sr. Assistants and lower are "non-exempt" weekly paid employees in my corporation. I don't understand it, but I'm not complaining.

I am an employment attorney in California and can let everybody know that you can be a salaried employee and still be non-exempt. The two have very little to do with each other. The exempt versus non-exempt analysis is a fact test based on level of responsibility, education, authority and level of pay. While exempt employees are almost always paid on a salary basis they could submit time cards but that would simply be for record keeping purposes as opposed to how much pay they should receive. More importantly, a non-exempt employee can be paid on a salary basis and still be non-exempt.
Michael G.

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mari in Fremont, California

64 months ago

Dear CA Employment Attorney:

Are there any defined parameters for the "fact test" that companies need to use to determine whether an Executive Assistant position should be non-exempt, exempt, or both, in CA?

Thank you.

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michaelg in Camarillo, California

64 months ago

Dear Mari:

Any employee who is engaged in work that is primarily intellectual, managerial, or creative, and which requires exercise of discretion and independent judgment, and for which the remuneration is not less than two times the monthly State minimum wage for full time employment would be exempt from overtime. This would be the test to use regarding an executive assistant. Unfortunately, decisions are made on a case by case basis so I cannot provide you any bright line rule such as is the case for computer programmers, outside sales people, professionals, ect.... (See IWC Order 14). The California courts have held that if the tasks of the employee affect the core policies of the company than that employee would likely be exempt. I do not believe that in general an executive assistant would qualify. California is more protective of employees and therefore more narrowly construes who can be considered exempt from overtime wages. I hope this was helpful.
Michael G.

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mari in Irvine, California

64 months ago

Dear Michael G.:

Your reply was very insightful. Thank you very much. I think there are pros and cons for both exempt and non-exempt status. During slower times such as what many companies are experiencing now with the recession, reduced travel, etc., exempt/salaried status can benefit an employee since compensation is not by the hour. But when workload returns to normal and hours are back up, then of course, non-exempt/hourly is the ideal classification. In my experience, companies are all over the place when it comes to classifying Executive Assistants. This situation supports your assessment that EAs should be classified on a case by case basis. But in my opinion there should be more consistency within a single company at least on how they classify their EAs. Thanks again for your input.

Best regards,
Mari

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JWP - another CA employment attorney in San Francisco, California

64 months ago

Just FYI - If your employment position is classified as non-exempt, you have to record the times that you begin and stop working. That is the law in California. It is not a matter of choice for your employer or your HR representative. They are required to record your time in that fashion. Additionally, you cannot get your classification changed by talking to your boss about it. Your employer is required to classify your position according to the law, not according to what is convenient or preferrential. That said, you can be non-exempt and be salaried. However, if you work overtime, you should be paid an hourly rate for your overtime hours. The overtime rate should be based on your weekly salary, divided by 40 and multiplied by 1.5.
Some executive assistants can qualify as exempt, but most do not.

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michaelg in Camarillo, California

64 months ago

In response to the previous post the author is correct with respect to how classifications are rendered and whose responsibility it is to keep track of hours worked for non-exempt employees. However, in California the law requires that overtime be paid to non-exempt employees either if they work in excess of 40 per week OR 8 hours per day. Unless an employee is part of a division which has expressly agreed to a flex work schedule, if that employee works in excess of 8 but no more than 12 hours, the overtime rate is 1.5 the regular hourly rate. Work done in excess of 12 hours per day (i.e. starting with hr 13) is paid at 2X the regular hourly rate. I hope this was helpful.

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Ann in Chadds Ford, PA in Landenberg, Pennsylvania

63 months ago

michaelg in Camarillo, California said: I am an employment attorney in California and can let everybody know that you can be a salaried employee and still be non-exempt. The two have very little to do with each other. The exempt versus non-exempt analysis is a fact test based on level of responsibility, education, authority and level of pay. While exempt employees are almost always paid on a salary basis they could submit time cards but that would simply be for record keeping purposes as opposed to how much pay they should receive. More importantly, a non-exempt employee can be paid on a salary basis and still be non-exempt.
Michael G.

I am an Exective Assistant to the President of a hospital. I was hired as a non-exempt employee. This is the first position working for a top level executive that I am non-exempt. I was acquiring 8 to 10 hrs OT bi-weekly. We are under the Kronos system. I was told not to have any OT but use the "get back" system. I find this very degrading to my position. What is the advantage for companies to make an Executive Assistant non-exempt vs. exempt? They have me right where they want me right now!! The only EA within our organization that is exempt works for the President/CEO of the system.

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Sassy in Irvington, New Jersey

62 months ago

mari in Fremont, California said: Some have posted that they are "salaried" and receive OT as well. I don't see how this is possible. Either your are "salaried" which means "exempt" OR you are "hourly" which means "non-exempt." How are people both?

I'm an EA working for a global 60 billion dollar corporation. I am salaried and receive OT. If I work 40 hours or less in one week, I receive a set salary. If I work more then 40 hours I receive OT. I am paid on the 15th and the last day of the month.

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Sharron in Hoffman Estates, Illinois

54 months ago

This is such an interesting forum. But, what I find frustrating is the ability of companies to interpret the latest HR interpretation as guideline for job title and pay. Who, as an EA, does not affect the business outcome of a firm? If you are supporting a C-level decision maker - often responding to correspondence/contacts (email or land mail), creating presentations, evaluating data (spreadsheets, reporting to executives), you are affecting the business outcome of your firm and, certainly, the job performance of your executive.

In my experience, that is not what the current crop of EAs is doing - nor were they hired to do that. The responsibilities detailed above are being done by VPs. EAs, being hired now, are what used to be considered Administrative Assistants (an hourly, non-exempt, OT position). But, I can remember when AAs were what EAs became. So, you see, this is a semantic/title game - being played to the financial advantage of firm.

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EA in chicagoland area in Lombard, Illinois

52 months ago

I an EA for 11 years was just switched from EA exempt getting paid on the 15th and 30th of every month to salaried non-exempt getting paid weekly. Has anyone experienced this change of pay?

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Carol in Rocklin, California

52 months ago

I've been an EA for 7 years and an AA for 20 years. I've never seen either as being an exempt position, but always as non-exempt. This has been true from small non-profits to Hewlett-Packard, and always getting paid every two weeks.

At a non-profit that I worked at, everyone in the office was non-exempt except for the Executive Director. The only non-exempt positions should have been administrative positions. The subject of reclassification came up and everyone threatened to quit because they knew that being paid hourly was better than salaried.

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Joyce New York in New York, New York

46 months ago

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread amongst my peers. There is such a fine line about an EA's job description. I believe in NY Labor guidelines, EA's carry a high level of responsibility, - calling it a gray area - therefore considered exempt status.

I have been an EA to C-level executives for over 10 years in non-profit and was exempt. The "going above and beyond" was rewarded with an end of the year bonus and flexibility to shift hours without having to use personal or vacation time and other perks. I loved it.

Recently I had a new position w/ a public company as non-exempt supporting a CFO but reported to an Admin Mgr. I thought O/T was going to be a great benefit. It can also be manipulated enhancing company's bottom line by keeping payroll as low as possible and push employee productivity hard. For me, it was micromanagement at its highest justifying with an explanation of the chain of events that brought up this unforeseen task, my current work flow and how was I going to adjust and estimate the extra time needed just to get pre-approval for O/T from the Admin Mgr. It was why aren't you getting it all done in the 8 hr day? There was no motivation or incentive to go beyond that. The managerial treatment is different and a divided work culture that did not work for me.

Having this experience has taught me that in the manner I go about managing my job to be a truly effective Partner with an executive who's expectations are to always be there and be ahead of things - I must require exempt status. And, to work for a place that has proper systems in place that allows EA's to be even more successful.

I'd like to hear more from my peers and how we can go about creating new standards.

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blondie in Lansing, Michigan

46 months ago

[QUOTE] I have been an EA to C-level executives for over 10 years in non-profit and was exempt. The "going above and beyond" was rewarded with an end of the year bonus and flexibility to shift hours without having to use personal or vacation time and other perks. I loved it.

Recently I had a new position w/ a public company as non-exempt supporting a CFO but reported to an Admin Mgr. I thought O/T was going to be a great benefit. It can also be manipulated enhancing company's bottom line by keeping payroll as low as possible and push employee productivity hard. For me, it was micromanagement at its highest justifying with an explanation of the chain of events that brought up this unforeseen task, my current work flow and how was I going to adjust and estimate the extra time needed just to get pre-approval for O/T from the Admin Mgr. It was why aren't you getting it all done in the 8 hr day? There was no motivation or incentive to go beyond that. The managerial treatment is different and a divided work culture that did not work for me.

Joyce's experience has been mine as well-as long as you have a fair employer who rewards hard work, salaried allows you growth. Hourly forces you to be less than you can be. Our bosses get in trouble if we accrue overtime, but technically they can get in trouble if they are aware we are working off the clock, even if it is our choice to do so. That means no time for taking on new skill building projects, not time for learning new skills or trying different methods - because if you do that you may not get your regular work done in that little 40 hour package. Its also hypocritical, because those who are handing out the assignments have the flexibility of completeing their projects on their own time if needed, but we do not. I've been both salaried and hourly, and I'll take salaried (with a fair boss, mind you) over hourly any day of the week.

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blondie in Lansing, Michigan

46 months ago

Sorry, Joyce - I accidentally erased the quote marks so your response ended up blended with mine. - Blondie

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Joyce in New York, New York

45 months ago

Thanks, Blondie for your added insights!

Yes, my former supv expressed her struggles to motivate her staff and her position was salaried/exempt. She would work late or take work home because, "it gives her more time to do things, it's less hectic, no phone ringings which gave her more concentration and clear mind to think.

She got the benefit and opportunity to learn more, do more, and explore more administrative skills and solutions.

The hourly/non-exempt categorization can limit an executive assistant's quality of work, and potential and career growth.

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William B. Payne in Gainesville, Florida

34 months ago

I am a manager in a restaurant. I have recently been researching this topic.
I hope this link will help you:

www.dol.gov/compliance/topics/wages-overtime-pay.htm

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Frustrated with HR in Las Vegas, New Mexico

33 months ago

I have been trying for years to be reclassified to a position which is exempt. I finally succeeded. I had been filling out the percentage of duties wrong and no one in HR even reviewed my position description questionnaire. I am asking for retroactive annual leave accruals only...no pay increases. HR will not approve the old annual leave accrual rate (revised 2010) which is .54 hours more per pay period because they consider me a new employee in exempt status. My argument is that I have been doing the same job and duties for 7 years, I am not a new employee, and it is employers responsibility to ensure that employees are classified correctly. If they had made an effort to review and question my Position Description Questionnaire years ago, I would have qualified for the higher annual leave accruals.

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Anonymous in Columbus, Ohio

33 months ago

Sharron in Hoffman Estates, Illinois said: This is such an interesting forum. But, what I find frustrating is the ability of companies to interpret the latest HR interpretation as guideline for job title and pay. Who, as an EA, does not affect the business outcome of a firm? If you are supporting a C-level decision maker - often responding to correspondence/contacts (email or land mail), creating presentations, evaluating data (spreadsheets, reporting to executives), you are affecting the business outcome of your firm and, certainly, the job performance of your executive.

In my experience, that is not what the current crop of EAs is doing - nor were they hired to do that. The responsibilities detailed above are being done by VPs. EAs, being hired now, are what used to be considered Administrative Assistants (an hourly, non-exempt, OT position). But, I can remember when AAs were what EAs became. So, you see, this is a semantic/title game - being played to the financial advantage of firm.

You are so right!!! We have AA and EA's and technically both do pretty much the same job if not the AA's work harder. AA's were just moved to non-exempt and the EA's were spared. It was supposed to be based off of an audit however it depends on what was reported to the auditor because there are other positions based off of their "real job descriptions" that should have been moved to non-exempt. It has been an interesting process, yet you don't want to rock the boat because the company is small and for fear of retaliation and the At Will laws in Ohio

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unathi.ncokazi@gmail.com in Johannesburg, South Africa

32 months ago

Salary employees do not receive overtime unless the months hours are filled.

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unathi.ncokazi@gmail.com in Johannesburg, South Africa

32 months ago

is it true that salary employees do not receive overtime unless the months hours are filled?

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Angela in Charlotte, North Carolina

31 months ago

I agree with you that as an EA we should be exempt. In my last position I was salaried and didn't have to dock my time if I had a dr. appointment or needed to come in early or leave late. Although I will say that I probably missed out on some amazing overtime because I more than made up for the hours missed in late nights and weekends. As an EA our job is never really 9-5. Currently I am an EA and am classfied as hourly which, like you, I resent but now I make sure that I leave on time and don't check my emails when I get home. So, I guess there is balance.

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ML in Costa Mesa, California

30 months ago

How do I determine whether or not my position as a Logistics Representative is exempt or non-exempt? The title is simply a generic term for a position that involves customer service, processing orders from start to finish including all arrangements for freight, as well as invoicing, A/P and many miscellaneous office functions in a small office. Any and all information you can provide will be greatly appreciated!!

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michaelg in Thousand Oaks, California

30 months ago

FYI, I am an employment attorney.

Assuming you are only governed by the federal FLSA then you have to fall under one of three classifications of exemptions, Executive, Administrative or Professional. Before I continue, safe to say, that the vast majority of positions are not considered exempt. They simply do not have enough independence and policy-making authority to qualify. Having said that and from the very brief job description you provided, it seems you are not exempt. Your position seems at most low level management and does not carry with it enought independent judgment and authority to qualify as exempt.

I hope this was helpful.
Michael

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Diane in Albuquerque, New Mexico

30 months ago

Oh, but I am. I met all the requirements and recently was classified exempt.

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LoveMe in Matthews, North Carolina

30 months ago

Lane in San Diego, California said: Hello all -

I've been an EA for at least 20 years. My current employer, whom I have worked for for almost 10 years, hired me as salaried, exempt (not eligible for overtime). Well a year or so ago my employer reviewed all positions and correctly classified me as non-exempt (eligible for OT), but insisted that I had to be hourly in this category. Coming from HR in my previous position (where I was salaried, non-exempt)I knew that EA's in CA are supposed to be classified as non-exempt, but I also know that one can be both non-exempt and salaried (which means being paid OT for anything over 40 hours per week rather than 8 per day).

Personally, I feel that a high-level EA position should not be hourly. We don't punch in and punch out at the end of the day and are done with it. I often take my laptop home to work and finish up things and I'm responsible to help the people I support do their jobs and they work long hours. I sort of resent having to be "on the clock" and having to go unpaid or use personal sick/vacation time if I have to leave early for a doctors appointment, etc.

We are going to a new, advanced payroll system in the next few months and I'm planning on to discuss my concerns regarding this to our HR manager but I'm not sure what the "status quo" is anymore regarding EA positions. How many of you, who support high level execs and CEO's are hourly verses salaried? I'd love your input, and I promise I'll report back on my results once I talk with HR :-)

To be a EA did you have to have a college degree? Maybe bigger corporations may want you to have a degree like a associate or bachelors.

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Angela in Charlotte, North Carolina

30 months ago

I know this is probably the not so nice way to get your message across but I think you should use the "hourly" status to gain some overtime. Not only will your paycheck increase but it will send a much stronger message than any conversation with HR regarding how riduculous it is to make you an hourly employee. I have worked as an EA for quite a long time and have been both exempt/salaried and hourly and believe me the company that had me as salaried is lucky that I was categorized that way because they would have paid an outrageous amount of money in overtime. I know that EA's don't simply work 9 to 5 and you would think that companies would know that by now. When you support some of the most visible people in the company you need to take your job seriously and be available at all times if necessary. In my current position I am hourly and have been doing my best to only work while at work. Although I was supplied with a Blackberry...which implies being available when not at work. LOL Fortunately my Exec has not been abusive with it and it is a fantastic company so I am willing to stay with my current status. I wish you luck in getting yours turned around.

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Thinking Outloud in San Diego, California

25 months ago

I'm an executive assistant and have been for well over 20 years, supporting C-level execs. I have been in exempt positions before, but am currently non-exempt. I prefer non-exempt status, as I am compensated for hours above and beyond a standard 40 hour work week that a salary would be based upon. As an EA I agree completely that our jobs do not fit into tidy little 9 to 5 packages. As such, when required to work overtime due to workload, I expect to be compensated for my time. My time = value = revenue. To me, it is a non-issue having to clock in/out or to have to use PTO for appointments. I have accrued/earned this PTO and use it at my discretion, while continuing to being paid fairly for the number of hours I invest each week in providing exemplary support to my executive team. I see no unfairness in this arrangement.The unfairness would lie in being expected to work the number of hours that I do without overtime compensation.

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janet hilden in Philippine

25 months ago

Thanks for the ideas guys i am having problems as to making decisions regarding this matter.

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Blondie in Lansing, Michigan

25 months ago

I haven't added anything to this thread in quite some time, as I took a new position that is salaried shortly after I posted 1.5 years ago. I still find the topic interesting though. I want to comment on "thinking outloud’s" contribution, as it gets to the heart of things. Yes, getting compensated for overtime is wonderful, and I could care less about whether or not it sounds more impressive to be salaried or not salaried. I work in a field that has highly trained professionals that are not salaried, so I don't equate that with knowledge or skill. Overtime is great if you are working for a company that doesn't punish you or your boss for your getting it, BUT - and this is the big but - it is hell if you work for a bully. In my company, overtime immediately gets the attention of administration, and you better be able to justify it right down to the second. If you get much more than a few hours a year, your boss will be punished, and if you didn't thoroughly explain to your boss why you didn't punch out in time – which you are supposed to do in advance - you get punished. Some bosses will take it on the chin for their staff, others won’t – especially the ones who get great pleasure out of putting someone in discipline. I’ve worked for both kinds. And yes, salaried can also be terrible if you work for a bully, but without the hard data provided by “punch in, punch out” they have less ammunition. Some of the bullies in my previous position got rid of an AA they didn’t like for personal reasons because she was two minutes late, or five minutes early. She had an outstanding reputation for years – as soon as she was transferred to a position under them, they used the numbers to destroy her.
Now I’m salaried again, there is no doubt that I give my employer some work for free, but I work for a fair person. I’m glad to not put her in a rough spot if I want to take leisurely lunch with a friend once in a while or run an errand before I come in for work. I’

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Blondie in Lansing, Michigan

25 months ago

...(continued) I’m also glad I can do some work at home occasionally because I happen to be in the mood without fear someone will find out and she’ll be punished for violating labor laws. I love flexibility - it means more to me than getting paid for every second of work. I do set my boundaries - and they are MY boundaries, not boundaries dictated by some distant entity who doesn’t have the foggiest idea what my life and work are really like.

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