Source | Forbes : By  Liz Ryan

I was happy to become a salaried employee. It felt very grown-up and professional, a contrast from the low-level jobs I had as a young person. As a salaried person I was joining the big leagues!

When I was an HR leader I led countless New Employee Orientation sessions on Monday mornings. In the Orientation sessions, I always had a mix of non-exempt folks who would complete a time sheet or punch a clock in order to get paid, and salaried people who didn’t do any of that.

In the Orientation meeting I had to explain the two different ways to get paid. I said something like this:

If you are a non-exempt employee, you’ll get paid time and half for overtime once you work 40 hours in a week. If you are a salaried exempt employee, you won’t get paid for overtime, but you can take some time off here and there without losing any pay because you are not paid according to the hours you work.

If your employer has a human culture such that you can start work at a reasonable hour and leave at a reasonable time, then being paid a salary might be wonderful.

If the salary is fair for the work you do and you can shut off the flow of requests from the office when you go home, you’re in great shape. However, many salaried employees are not that lucky.

Depending on your location, there may be nothing in employment law that restricts an employer from giving a salaried employee way more work than anyone could finish in 40 hours per week (or many more than 40 hours).

An imminent change in U.S. employment laws will require most employers to pay overtime to any employee who gets paid less than fifty thousand dollars per year.

That still leaves gazillions of people who get paid $60,000, $70,000 or $80,000 per year who won’t get paid for overtime but also don’t have the discretion to say, “That’s enough work for this week — I’m done!” They  have to do the work, no matter how long it takes.

Discretion over your work and its boundaries is supposed to be one of the conditions that makes a person eligible to be paid a straight salary versus an hourly wage, but in reality how many working people are going to tell their boss, “I’m not going to work this weekend”?

Almost every working person has been caught in a bind between obligations at work and at home. Some people seldom leave that spot between a rock and a hard place!

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