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My employer switched me from hourly to salary. Is it legal to do that without informing the employees beforehand?


Dear Donna,

I switched over to home health nursing a year and a half ago after a work-related injury in the ED. I was shocked to find myself changed without my knowledge or input from hourly wage to salary. There are no limits to the hours we are forced to work, no limit on the number of patients we are expected to see and case manage, and no time allotted for the mountain of paperwork that goes along with this job. We are paid a flat 40 hours with a stipend for greater than 30 patient visits/week. There is no overtime and no official record of our hours. Our weekends and evenings are not our own. We are expected to supply our own cars to visit patients and carry the massive amount of supplies that we need to have available. How can this possibly be legal?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Judy,

I consulted a human resource expert on this. Here’s what he had to say:

“The federal government has established rules for classifying jobs as exempt (salaried) or non-exempt (hourly). If a position qualifies for exempt status, the employer may legally classify it as such. The employer is under no obligation to consult with employees or seek their approval before classifying a position. Of course, as in all things, the employer is required to apply all rules fairly and without illegal discrimination.

“Exempt employees are paid a flat salary; they are not eligible for overtime pay. So, the employer does have the right to ask salaried employees to work overtime and on weekends without additional compensation. The federal government does not place a cap on the maximum number of hours that employees may work in a defined time period. The nurse may want to consult with the department of labor to see if there is any state or local law that covers this issue.

“With regard to number of patients assigned to one nurse, I suggest that the writer consult with her state board of nursing to see if there are any regulations that address the issue.”

You can find your state department of labor by looking in the blue (government) pages of your phone book.

Good luck,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum’s “Dear Donna” and author of Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call (800) 866-0919 or visit

By | 2008-03-21T00:00:00-04:00 March 21st, 2008|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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