FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who prepares job descriptions?
Job descriptions are defined by the department in which the position resides—not the employee.
How do I prepare a job description?
The “Guidelines for Writing Job Descriptions” document can be of assistance in preparing the description.
Do I have to sign my job description?
Yes, all staff employees must sign their job description as a condition of employment.
To which pay grade is my position assigned?
An employee may direct this inquiry to his/her supervisor or to a member of the compensation team.
When are merit increases granted?
When funds are available, increases are effective on 7/1, the beginning date of the university’s fiscal year.
How frequently is the university’s salary structure adjusted?
Administration reviews the salary structure periodically as recommended by compensation. Adjustments are made as they are approved and funded.
How are jobs classified?
A member of the compensation team performs an analysis of the job using a variety of compensable factors. The result of the review is then translated into a pay grade.
What should I do if I want to reclassify a job?
Detailed instructions can be found on the Compensation section of WFMOs web site. Specific questions should be addressed to a member of the compensation team.
What is the Fair Labor Standards Act and what does being “nonexempt” mean?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the Federal law that sets minimum wage, overtime, record keeping requirements, and child labor standards for all employers. Positions are classified as being either exempt from the FLSA or nonexempt (i.e. covered by the Act) based on criteria outlined in the legislation.
For covered nonexempt employees, the FLSA requires employers to pay overtime at a rate of not less than one and one-half times an employee's regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a single workweek. Tulane’s policy is to compensate employees at an overtime rate for all hours worked in excess of the employee’s normal work day or workweek.
How should time sheets be completed?
Federal law requires that Tulane maintain a daily record of time worked by each nonexempt employee. Time sheets are considered official documents; consequently, they should be typewritten or handwritten in ink and must be complete and accurate. Time sheets must include the following:
- Employee name and Social Security number
- Daily arrival and departure times to and from work
- Arrival and departure times to and from work for meal periods or other approved partial day absences
- Total daily and weekly hours
- Vacation and sick leave hours used; holiday time
- Total hours worked, to include regular and overtime hours worked, non-paid absences, and hours paid from leave accruals
- Employee signature
- Supervisor and/or other authorized departmental representative signature
Specific questions regarding time sheet completion should be directed toward a member of the payroll team.
How do I calculate time worked?
The FLSA requires nonexempt employees be compensated for all hours worked. Hours worked generally consists of all time spent by an employee performing services for an employer when work is controlled by or required by the employer primarily for the employer’s benefit. In general, compensable hours worked include all time an employee is on duty or at a prescribed place of work and any time that an employee is permitted to work, regardless of whether the time work is authorized by the employee’s supervisor.
What is considered overtime and what is overtime pay?
The FLSA considers all hours worked in excess of 40 in a single workweek as being overtime. The FLSA requires employers to pay overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times an employees’ regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek. Tulane defines overtime as all hours worked in excess of the employee’s regularly scheduled workweek. The FLSA does not limit the number of hours an employee may work in a workweek.
Can an employee decide to waive payment of his/her overtime?
No, the overtime requirement may not be waived under any circumstances.
Is an employee required to obtain his/her supervisor’s approval prior to working overtime?
Yes, an employee must receive permission prior to working overtime and both supervisor and employee must agree--in advance of the overtime worked—how the employee will be paid (i.e. either through overtime compensation or time off in lieu of overtime compensation).
An employee worked overtime without my knowledge as supervisor. Do I have to pay the employee for time worked?
Yes,an employee who works unauthorized overtime must be compensated or granted the equivalent in time off by the department. Since this is a violation of University policy, supervisors must address the working of unauthorized overtime through the University’s Progressive Discipline Policy.
Can a nonexempt employee work from home?
The University has no telecommuting policy permitting employees to work from home.
How can overtime costs be controlled?
There are at least four options supervisors can pursue to either reduce or eliminate overtime costs:
- Monitor work performed to ensure that employees are working as efficiently and productively as possible during the work day.
- Assess internal operations with a goal of redistributing work loads more evenly.
- Modify work week schedules to offset any overtime worked (so that by the end of the week the employee has not exceeded 37.5 or 40 hours actually worked).
- Determine if the value derived from the provision of certain functions justify the costs associated with supporting such services.
Normal business operations that require employees to work overtime on a regular basis could indicate a staffing deficiency. It may be less expensive in the long run to hire a permanent part-time or full-time staff employee than to continue paying excessive overtime costs.
What are the University’s practices relative to travel?
There are several scenarios that must be considered to determine when an employee should be compensated for travel:
Home to work, ordinary situations: Generally, the time a nonexempt employee spends commuting from home to work is not considered worked time and does not have to be paid. According to the FLSA regulations (29 C.F.R. §785.35), “An employee who travels from home before his regular work day and returns to his home at the end of the work day is engaged in ordinary home to work travel which is a normal incident of employment. This is true whether the employee works at a fixed location or at different job sites.” Thus, travel from home to work normally is not worked time and, therefore, does not have to be paid.
Home to work, emergency situations: If an employee is required to return to the University or to the employee’s regular work location to respond to an emergency situation, travel from home to work is not considered work time.
Home to work, special assignments: A nonexempt employee must be compensated for all time spent traveling to attend a seminar, training session, or work assignment at an off-site location that lasts for an entire day, but only to the extent that the time is beyond what the employee would normally spend commuting to/from work at his regular work location. All time spent by the employee attending the seminar or training session is considered work time, except for meal periods not spent performing work or in the seminar (29 C.F.R. §785.37).
Travel as part of the day’s work: Time an employee spends traveling as part of his principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the work day, must be counted as hours worked and must be paid. In addition, if an employee must report to a meeting place to receive instructions, perform other work, or pick up certain items for work, the travel time from the meeting place to the work site is part of the day’s work and counts as hours worked. (29 C.F.R. §785.38).
Overnight travel: Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight is travel away from home. If a nonexempt employee travels to a seminar, training session, or work assignment and leaves the day before the seminar or work begins, that employee is only eligible for compensation for the travel time that overlaps the employee’s regular work day. In this instance, the employee is merely substituting travel for other work duties. Thus, if the employee normally works from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., and leaves at 4 p.m. to attend the seminar the next day, arriving at the destination at 9 p.m., the University is only required to pay for one hour of travel time—the time beginning at 4 p.m. and ending at 5 p.m. (29 C.F.R. §785.38).
Travel time on nonworking days (i.e. days on which the employee is not regularly scheduled to work) is also considered work time if conducted during normal work hours. For example, if an employee travels on a Saturday, that employee must be compensated for any travel time occurring during the hours of his regular schedule (i.e. between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., etc.). Again, time for normal meal periods can be deducted from the total hours worked, provided the employee performs no work during the actual meal period (29 C.F.R. §785.39).
Note: An apparent inconsistency in the regulations should be noted. Employees who travel on the same day they attend a seminar or perform work are paid for all the time spent traveling (less time they would normally spend commuting). However, employees who travel on one day and attend a seminar or workshop on the next day that happens to be at a different location other than the employee’s regular work location are compensated only for the time that cuts across, or overlaps, the employee’s normal workday.
Work performed while traveling: Travel time during non-work hours is considered work time that must be paid if the employee actually performs work while traveling. (29 C.F.R. §785.41).
Transportation: If an employee is offered public transportation, but requests and is granted permission to drive his/her car instead, the employer may count as hours worked either the time spent driving the car, or the time that would have counted as hours worked if the employee had taken public transportation. (29 C.F.R. §785.40).
What is call-back pay?
In instances where an employee is required to report back to work after the employee has finished his/her regular work shift and left the University, the employee will be guaranteed a minimum of three hours’ pay at 1-1/2 times the employee’s regular rate. This minimum is paid regardless of the amount of time actually worked by the employee upon return. Any call back pay received will be in addition to any overtime pay the employee may be eligible to receive for having worked in excess of 7.5 hours in a single day or 37.5 hours in a single work week (8 hours per day and 40 hours per week if the employee is on a regularly scheduled 40 hour work week).
Can a nonexempt employee receive a one-time payment for additional work performed or as a bonus?
There are specific rules regarding the payment of discretionary and non-discretionary bonuses to nonexempt employees. Essentially, a nonexempt employee may receive a lump sum discretionary bonus if the employee had no expectation of receiving the bonus in response to having met certain targeted goals (i.e. the bonus payment was not in connection with an approved bonus plan).
Bonuses paid to an employee for having met certain established goals defined in advance of the work being performed are considered non-discretionary. The dollar value of these types of bonuses, as well as requests to compensate nonexempt employees for additional work performed, must be added into an employee’s total compensation for the time period in which the employee performed the work to ensure that any overtime worked by the employee is recorded and compensated at the correct rate.
How should a nonexempt employee be compensated if s/he works on a holiday?
Nonexempt employees scheduled to work 50 percent or more of full-time who work on a University-declared holiday will be paid for their regular pay plus one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all time actually worked.
Can a nonexempt employee work for another department in a similar or different capacity?
Caution must be exercised in allowing nonexempt employees principally assigned to one organizational unit to perform duties or services for another unit. Employees wishing to engage in additional employment must receive approval from their supervisor prior to engaging in or committing to perform work for another department. Regardless of where a nonexempt employee actually works, Tulane is considered one employer. As such, all work performed by a nonexempt employee in any capacity and for any combination of departments must be accurately tracked to ensure that an employee receives overtime pay, if appropriate.
Are nonexempt employees entitled to breaks or rest periods?
The FLSA does not require employers to provide breaks or rest periods for employees. However, supervisors may, at their discretion, allow employees to take a 15-minute rest period during each half day worked. Such rest periods must be consistently made available for all nonexempt employees reporting to that supervisor; may not take place at a time that will interfere with the operational efficiency of the department, be taken during the first or last hour of any shift, be accumulated over time; or be used to lengthen a lunch period.
Are meal periods considered worked time?
Meal periods are typically referred to as lunch periods and are unpaid breaks of no less than 30 minutes and no greater than 1 hour. These periods are not considered work time. Note: If an employee is allowed or requested to work during his lunch period, that time is considered work time and must be compensated.
If an employee is not allowed to leave the University’s premises while having lunch, is this meal time considered work time?
No, regardless of whether or not the employee is physically able to leave University premises, time spent for meal periods or lunch time is not considered work time unless the employee actually performs work during this time.
What is the University’s on-call policy?
The University has no formal on-call policy at this time, but we do follow the regulations outlined by the Department of Labor in this regard. Essentially, if a nonexempt employee is required to be on call and to respond within a certain period of time after being contacted by his supervisor, but the employee is allowed to pursue personal interests during this time and is not required to be physically located at the University, the time spent on call is not considered work time. If, however, the restrictions are so great that the employee is required to remain on University premises and is not allowed to pursue personal interests, time spent on call would be considered work time.