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Help Wanted: When the doctor decides to close the office on Friday, do workers get paid?

The employees are willing to show up, even if the doctor isn't in. A worker asks whether it is legal for the office to be closed, depriving the workers of their pay for the day. 

Hourly employees are not required to be paid

Hourly employees are not required to be paid when a doctor's office is not open. Photo Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto

DEAR CARRIE: I am part of a staff of eight in a doctor's office. We do not get paid for holidays, sick time or vacation. Now the doctor is thinking about closing the office this Friday.  But we didn't ask for the day off and are willing to come in because if he closes the office, we will not get paid. Is he legally allowed to do this? — Doctoring the Schedule

DEAR DOCTORING: Just as an aside, I always find it incredible that a doctor doesn't give employees sick days. He or she of all people should know the importance of such a benefit.

But to your question, if you and your colleagues are hourly, or nonexempt, employees, the doctor has to pay you only when you work, even if he or she is the reason you aren't on the job. So when the office isn't open, you don't have to be paid. When inclement weather hits and companies close as a result, they don't have to pay hourly workers. But some companies do because they don't want to cause hardships for their employees.

For exempt employees, such as managers and professionals, the situation is different. They would have to be paid even if the office closed. Their pay could be docked only if they missed a full day of work for personal reasons. 

 Perhaps some of you could speak to the doctor about the hardship closing the office would pose for you. Maybe the good doctor will decide to be in instead.  

DEAR CARRIE: I am a teacher's aide in a local school district. We start work when the children start school. We work two full weeks, and at the end of the second week, we fill out our time sheet. We work another two weeks, put in another time sheet. At this time we are paid for our first two weeks' pay. We are at this point working one full month without being paid. Is this legal? I am in a union, however this practice is not covered anywhere in our contract. We are all hourly employees and work from three to seven hours a day. — Pay Grade

DEAR PAY:  For an answer I went straight to the State Labor Department, which enforces the frequency-of-pay laws. The lag seems legal, said Jill Aurora, communications director.  

"The lag period inquired about appears to be the same as the standard lag payroll period for all NYS employees: a two-week lag on payment for work performed during a prior two-week payroll period," she said. 

 I guess patience will have to be the watchword for you and your colleagues.

DEAR CARRIE: I was a Postal Service employee, and we had the option of taking sick leave to care for a dependent. Are postal employees also covered by the state Paid Family Leave law?  — Who's Covered 

DEAR WHO'S: Public-sector employees can opt into the paid leave program, which is paid for with employee deductions. Unionized public-sector employees could be eligible for the leave if their collective bargaining agreement includes the benefit.  

Go to bit.ly/HourlyLI for more on what constitutes work for hourly employees under federal laws.  

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