Employee Rights Attorney

Mission Viejo, California

Q: Our company was given the entire Christmas week off, exempt and non exempt employees alike. Only one and a half of those days were paid as holiday. The other three and a half days had to be taken as vacation or unpaid time off. As a salaried employee, can my employer force me to take unpaid vacation? I believe I was entitled to be paid for it.

A: “As a starting point, exempt salaried employees are paid for the value of their work rather than the actual time worked,” says Don D. Sessions, Don D. Sessions Law Corp., Mission Viejo. “Such employees are generally entitled to the full amount of their salaries regardless of the actual amount of time worked.

“Companies often benefit from this rule where the job requires more than eight hours per day to complete. The rule is two sided to the extent that the salaried employees will be entitled to the full amount of their salaries where the job takes less than eight hours per day to complete.

“There are exceptions. Employers are not required to pay an employee’s salary for a workweek in which an employee performs no work. It appears that your employer closed the business for operating reasons, such as an anticipated reduction of business during the holiday week. This alone would not give the employer a right to withhold payment of an employee’s salary. If no work was done during the workweek, your employer would be entitled to withhold payment. Of course, a workweek is comprised of seven days, not just five. Therefore, if you worked any part of the two remaining days in the workweek, you’d be entitled to your salary.”