My salaried employee requests an unpaid day off. I am happy to grant it, and to reduce the weekly salary by the one day. Is that appropriate?

  • 3
    That would be implied by ‘unpaid’, wouldn’t it?
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 1, 2019 at 20:51
  • 9
    What is the problem?
    – Ed Heal
    Nov 1, 2019 at 20:52
  • Is that appropriate? I think so. You should just ask your HR. Nov 1, 2019 at 20:55
  • 3
    That is not legal in all areas - and while we don't answer legal questions, your jurisdiction should probably be added. Nov 1, 2019 at 21:06
  • thanks. We are doing business in Vermont.
    – Jennifer
    Nov 1, 2019 at 21:10

4 Answers 4


I see this is in the United States. Is this a FLSA-exempt employee? It's important, because the Salary Basis Test stipulates that they are entitled to their full salary for any week in which any work is performed. Even if he asks for the unpaid day in writing, an employee cannot waive the protections of the FLSA.

Granting the request could open a can of worms for you, and you should consult with a labor attorney before allowing such requests. Now, if you just let them take the day off paid, no can of worms has been opened. Frankly, an occasional paid day off is kind of a perk of being salaried vs hourly... you know, given the expectations of unpaid overtime.

  • 7
    "an occasional paid day off is kind of a perk of being salaried" is the universally applicable part of the answer. I've worked in Australia and Aotearoa with this perk. Also worked for employers who rely on salaried people not being paid overtime but refused this kind of request... then wondered why people stopped being available after hours. That's a fatberg and a half.
    – Móż
    Nov 2, 2019 at 9:27
  • This is similar to how a non-exempt hourly employee can not work unpaid overtime. Prudent companies pay back wages when they find out employees have done that, and I would expect them to do the same if they found an exempt employee being docked. In order to avoid the danger of having the employee reclassified and back wages being due.
    – jmoreno
    Nov 3, 2019 at 2:19
  • 1
    My goodness, US employment law is strange :/
    – user34687
    Nov 4, 2019 at 1:17
  • these tests are meant to protect every employee from being considered salaried and then made to work 80 hour weeks every week. In general, employees are entitled to time and a half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours in any given week. The Fair Labor Standards Act has limited exemptions, and those exemptions have very strict tests to ensure that the law isn't being abused.
    – eskaife
    Nov 4, 2019 at 15:26
  • "Even if he asks for the unpaid day in writing, an employee cannot waive the protections of the FLSA." That's not quite correct, I believe. This fact sheet from US Department of Labor says: "Deductions from pay are permissible when an exempt employee: is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability". So if they ask for time off because of personal reasons (as opposed to e.g. because there is no work to do), you can grant them and dock pay accordingly.
    – sleske
    Nov 8, 2019 at 14:15

I assume by asking the question, you don't have a HR department. I recommend that you contact a local contract HR company, and pay them to handle similar issues.

You should also consider the cost of this one day. If you give them the day off, and then jump through all the hoops to make sure you don't pay them for that day, you'll spend (probably) more money than if you just paid them. Plus, if you just give them the day as a paid holiday, you don't need to do anything on your payroll. Simple for you, and gets an enormous amount of goodwill from the employee.

  • But that opens up a can of worms. Now there's no repercussions for taking an unpaid day off.
    – Jack
    Nov 1, 2019 at 23:30
  • 3
    Not so. Taking a day off still requires permission, so if this ever became a problem, permission can be revoked. Things like these are commonin most workplaces and usually work out well for all sides if the company culture is the least bit healthy. Nov 2, 2019 at 0:14

Sure, why not? But it does depend if there are any special circumstances. If you have good reason to give him a break like bereavement, do so. But remember, other employees may want the same break.


Why not consider getting the employee to do that "day" equivalent with some overtime or two Saturday mornings?

Then they get the full salary and you get the work you pay for.

Of course, you need to consider how many others will then try the same...

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .