Adding Job Duties

February 1, 2005

I want to eliminate a part-time position and offer the work as a special project to other, existing staff with a set monthly fee. This project would not be part of the regular job, nor included in their job description. Is this legal?

Question: I want to eliminate a part-time position and offer the work as a special project to other, existing staff with a set monthly fee. This project would not be part of the regular job, nor included in their job description. Is this legal?

Answer: As the employer, you have the right to assign the work and compensate accordingly.

The employee, if eligible for overtime pay as a nonexempt employee, may have to be compensated at time and a half of their regular hourly wage. If the employee is considered exempt from the overtime provisions of law, the additional duties are just added on without additional compensation. Most employers would increase the individual's pay in order to recognize the additional duties.

However, there may be two problems associated with the additional "stipend." First, are these employees under a labor contract? If so, what does it require? If the employee is not an hourly employee, this "stipend" may create the impression that this exempt employee is now an hourly, nonexempt employee. The Labor Department does not take it kindly when employers begin treating salaried employees as hourly employees, either by deducting time off on an hourly basis, or paying employees on an hourly basis for additional duties or as a form of compensatory time off.

In short, there is no legal statute preventing you from paying additional compensation to an employee who is being asked to work outside of their regular duties. The matter gets a bit stickier depending on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) status, exempt vs. nonexempt, of the employee.