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Is it legal for an employer to dock pay from an exempt employee?

There are a few situations in which an employer could dock pay from an exempt employee in Idaho. You should know what these scenarios are to avoid surprises.

First and last week

Employment law doesn’t require employers to pay exempt employees for the full first or last week when they worked a partial week. If you started a new job on Wednesday, then your employer doesn’t have to pay you for Monday and Tuesday. After your first week, however, employers do have to provide the promised regular pay for exempt employees, or else their exempt employees may become non-exempt.

Vacation days

Once an exempt employee uses up their vacation days, employment law allows employers to deduct pay for any missed days that weren’t sick days. However, employers can’t expect employees to do any work on a day off because this would mean that they still have to pay for the full day. Even 15 minutes of work means that an employer can’t dock pay from the exempt employee. If an employer worries that their employee will answer emails or do other work, they could keep the employee’s work laptop at the office on their unpaid day off.


When an exempt employee is out of work on FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), you don’t need to pay them for the time off. If an exempt employee chooses to work a few hours while on FMLA, then you could dock pay.

Court-ordered deductions

Employers must comply with court-ordered deductions, so this issue doesn’t affect an exempt employee’s designation. Court-ordered deductions aren’t actually docking pay because the employer is not the one reducing the paycheck. The pay is still the same, but the legal system is taking part of it for that person’s debts, alimony or child support.

Docking pay of an exempt employee is legal under certain circumstances and will not change their status as exempt. To prevent conflict and grudges, it’s a good idea to fully explain this to new employees.