State tightens focus on time records of salaried workers

The Nevada Labor Commissioner is paying more attention to an often-overlooked state law that requires employers to keep accurate records of the hours worked by salaried workers and employees who are exempt from overtime regulations.

An employer group, meanwhile, views the law as a burden and wants regulatory changes.

Many employers don't keep records of the hours worked by salaried or exempt employees because they're not required do so by federal labor law, said Michael Tanchek, Nevada's labor commissioner.

State law, however, requires employers to keep records of the hours worked each day by all employees and doesn't provide an exemption for salaried or exempt workers.

The issue is a low priority for the labor commissioner's staff, and the state isn't likely to launch an enforcement crackdown, Tanchek said.

Still, he added, "There are no exceptions in the law." The state's routine inspections of business records include examination of the records of hours worked by salaried and exempt employees.

Even so, employers who want to observe the law need to take steps to record information that isn't required by federal law, said James Nelson, executive director of the Nevada Association of Employers.

"It's become a challenge for some employers to accomplish this," Nelson said.

Some are required to rewrite software. Others are distributing time sheets to exempt management employees or requiring them to punch a time clock.

The employers association wants the state to rewrite its regulations to get them in line with federal rules, and Nelson said the subject is likely to be in the spotlight when employers meet in a town hall session with the labor commissioner on July 21.

The issue has gotten more attention in recent months, Tanchek said, because state lawmakers gave his office more responsibility to ensure that workers are properly paid overtime.

And one of the cornerstones of those investigations, Tanchek said, is employers' records of the hours worked by employees.

"This isn't really about recordkeeping," he said. "The real issue is understanding who is exempt."

In some instances, he said, employers mistakenly believe that they don't need to pay overtime to salaried employees.

That's not true. No matter whether a worker is paid by the hour, by the week, by the month or even by piecework state law requires payment of overtime.

Overtime isn't required for Nevada workers in executive or executive capacities or in a handful of other categories spelled out in state law.

The exemptions in Nevada law cover about a quarter of a typed page. The exemptions in federal law, meanwhile, cover eight closely spaced pages.

Often, Tanchek said, employers look only to federal law and forget that the state's standards are different and sometimes tighter.

Among the labor commissioner's biggest concerns are employers who abuse the managerial exemption calling a janitor a "vice president of maintenance," for example to avoid payment of overtime.


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