Compensation, FLSA/Wages

Ask the Expert: Exempt Status for Employee Who ‘Fills in’ As Supervisor?

Question: What are the considerations under the FLSA if an employee is temporarily assigned the duties of his supervisor (filling in for vacation, etc.)?

Answer from the experts at HR.BLR.com

The fact that an employee is taking on extra job duties during another employee’s vacation does not trigger any new pay obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) unless you have promised the employee additional pay to perform the extra duties.

So, for example, if you offer to provide the employee a bonus for the week he is performing his supervisor’s duties, the bonus may affect his overtime rate if he is nonexempt. (Assuming the employee is nonexempt and is performing the supervisory role temporarily, you should be sure to pay the nonexempt employee overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a single workweek.)

A bonus promised to a nonexempt employee for extra work likely would be considered nondiscretionary and should be considered in the employee’s regular rate of pay when calculating overtime.

You also may be wondering if the substitute employee is nonexempt whether he should be reclassified temporarily as exempt to limit overtime payments and the answer likely is no.

Although the exempt classification generally is considered on a weekly basis, the complexity of changing an employee from nonexempt to exempt for a short-term period likely is not worth any advantage of not having to pay the employee overtime and may lead to questions about the employee’s status and proper payment under the FLSA.