Rules for Pay During Suspension of Nonexempt Employee

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What are the rules for paying a nonexempt employee during a suspension?

A nonexempt employee may be suspended without pay. This is true whether the employee is suspended for disciplinary reasons or suspended during an investigation into potential harassment or other misconduct.

Some companies may choose to provide pay to nonexempt employees during an investigatory suspension, or provide pay if the investigation results in a finding that there was in fact no wrongdoing on the part of the employee, but this is not legally required.

A nonexempt employee who is suspended without pay might request to use vacation pay for the days he or she is suspended. However, the law does not require an employer to allow employees to use vacation pay during a suspension, and many employers choose not to allow use of vacation pay so that the employee will feel the financial impact of the suspension.

On the other hand, some employers may wish to implement a policy requiring nonexempt employees to use vacation pay during a suspension, thus reducing an employee’s vacation bank for time off that might otherwise be available for taking a vacation in the future. Employers are permitted to have such policies.

Reporting Time Pay

When a nonexmpt employee reports to work expecting to work a full shift, but is suspended and sent home early during that shift, reporting time pay obligations arise. An employee who is sent home as the result of a suspension is entitled to pay for half the scheduled shift.

Thus, an employee who normally works an eight-hour day but is suspended and sent home three hours into the shift would be entitled to pay for the three hours worked plus one additional hour of reporting time pay.

Exempt Employees

Note the rule for paying salaried exempt employees during a suspension differs from the rule for nonexempts. Salaried exempt employees in California may be suspended without pay only if the suspension is for the duration of the employer’s full seven-day workweek. No salary deductions may be made for partial workweek suspensions for exempt employees.


The Labor Law Helpline is a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.

Staff Contact: Ellen Savage

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Ellen Savage
About Ellen Savage
Ellen Savage joined the CalChamber in 1990 and currently serves as an HR adviser. She has been assisting employers on the Helpline for almost 15 years. She was the editor of eight editions of the California Labor Law Digest and author of the CalChamber's California Hiring to Termination Guide. Her experience also includes practicing at a large Sacramento law firm and presenting at dozens of employment law seminars statewide. She holds a J.D. from Lincoln Law School.