The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Sample Safe Harbor Policy

Reference Number: MTAS-938
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: July 25, 2017
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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law which requires that most employees in the United States be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at time and one-half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek.

Salary Basis Requirement

To qualify for exemption, employees generally must be paid at not less than $455 per week on a salary basis. These salary requirements do not apply to teachers, and employees practicing law or medicine.

Being paid on a “salary basis” means an employee regularly receives a predetermined amount of compensation each pay period on a weekly, or less frequent, basis. The predetermined amount cannot be reduced because of variations in the quality or quantity of the employee’s work. Subject to exceptions listed below, an exempt employee must receive the full salary for any workweek in which the employee performs any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked. Exempt employees do not need to be paid for any workweek in which they perform no work. If the employer makes deductions from an employee’s predetermined salary, i.e., because of the operating requirements of the business, that employee is not paid on a “salary basis.” If the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available unless due to public accountability issues.

Circumstances in Which the Employer May Make Deductions from Pay

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; for absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness; to offset amounts employees receive as jury or witness fees, or for military pay; or for unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule infractions (see Company Policy on penalties for workplace conduct rule infractions) unless required due to public accountability issues.

Also, the city is not required to pay the full salary in the initial or terminal week of employment; for penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance, or for weeks in which an exempt employee takes unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In these circumstances, either partial day or full day deductions may be made. 

It is the city's policy to comply with applicable wage and hour laws and regulations. The improper pay deduction specified in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations § 541.603 may not be made from the pay of employees who are subject to the salary basis test under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

If you believe that any deduction has been made from your pay that is inconsistent with your salaried status, you should immediately contact ___________________ at ___________________.

Every complaint will be resolved within a reasonable time given all the facts and circumstances. If an investigation reveals that you were subjected to an improper deduction from pay, you will be reimbursed, and the city will take whatever action it deems necessary to ensure compliance with the salary basis test in the future.

Responsible: