Wisconsin Salaried Employees Laws

January 29th 2024

Salaried employees form a specific segment of the workforce, receiving fixed compensation at regular intervals, usually on a weekly or less frequent basis.

This article delves into Wisconsin’s regulatory structure that defines the rights and obligations of salaried employees and their employers. It covers various elements including payment procedures, break and leave entitlements, and the classification of employees as exempt or non-exempt.

This article covers:

Payment of Wages for Salaried Employees in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, employers must create consistent pay schedules that do not exceed 31 days. While employers can opt for more frequent pay periods like semimonthly or weekly, exceptions exist:

  • Logging workers and farm laborers must be compensated at least quarterly.
  • University of Wisconsin system unclassified employees follow the University’s internal payment processes.
  • Technicians are required to receive payment at least annually in regular intervals.

Employers often utilize payroll hours tracking to manage pay periods and approvals, preventing instances of unpaid wages and ensuring legal compliance.

Salaried Employees Eligibility for Overtime for Wisconsin

Despite the common misconception that salaried workers are not eligible for overtime pay, not all salaried employees are automatically classified as non-eligible or “exempt” from overtime in Wisconsin. For an employee to be considered exempt, they must satisfy the legal definitions provided in the law. 

For salaried employees who do not qualify as exempt, it’s important to note that employers are obligated to provide overtime pay if such employees work beyond 40 hours in a single week.

It must be noted that under Wisconsin’s overtime regulations outlined in Chapter Department of Workforce Development 274 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, certain employees engaged primarily in administrative, executive, or professional tasks are exempt from overtime requirements with a prerequisite for these exemptions is that these employees receive their pay on a salary basis. 

Pay for Working Overtime for Wisconsin Salaried Employees

Overtime compensation for salaried employees is calculated at one and a half times (1.5x) the regular rate of pay. The regular rate, which varies for salaried employees depending on their weekly work hours, factors into this calculation.

If a salary covers straight-time wages for all hours worked, employers are required to pay an additional half time for hours worked beyond 40 in a week.

For instance, if a non-exempt employee has a $500 weekly salary and works 50 hours in a week, the regular rate is determined by dividing the salary ($500) by the hours worked (50), yielding $10.00.

To compute overtime pay, the regular rate is halved ($10.00 divided by 2, making it $5.00), and this value is then multiplied by the 10 overtime hours, resulting in $50. Therefore, the total gross wages for the week, inclusive of overtime, would amount to $550 ($500 salary plus $50 in overtime pay).

This approach to overtime compensation is permitted under Wisconsin law for salaried, non-exempt employees, but federal regulations might differ.

Given the complexity of these computations, various aids like overtime compliance software or even time and attendance software are employed to streamline these calculations and minimize the possibility of human errors.

Exceptions to Overtime Exemptions for Wisconsin Salaried Employees

Under Wisconsin regulations, specific job categories are exempt from overtime regulations, which comprise:

  • Salaried executives, administrative, and professional workers earning above $700 per month.
  • Agricultural laborers.
  • Domestic service providers working within the employer’s residence.
  • Federal agency employees.

Learn more in detail about Wisconsin Overtime Laws.

Violation of Salaried Employees Wages Payment in Wisconsin

If there is a disagreement with the employer regarding the owed wages or if the employer neglects to pay the agreed-upon wages for the actual worked hours, employees retain the right to submit a wage claim to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

In the event that an employer declines to provide earned wages on the scheduled payday, the employee should make a payment request. If the payment is not received within 6 days, the employee has the option to lodge a claim with the division. Upon filing a claim, the division will work towards addressing the issue by engaging with the employer.

The division is authorized to address various types of wage claims, which encompass matters such as salaries, commissions, holiday pay, vacation pay, severance pay, dismissal pay, bonuses, and cases involving illegal deductions. Additionally, the division can handle claims related to supplemental unemployment compensation benefits, as stipulated by binding collective bargaining agreements, or other similar benefits agreed upon between the employer and the employee, as well as those provided by the employer as part of an established policy for their employees.

Various laws and regulations entail distinct penalties for non-compliance. Broadly speaking, offenders could face fines ranging from $10 to $100 per day for each violation of Wisconsin’s labor standards regulations. If attempts to resolve labor disputes are unsuccessful, the department can enlist the assistance of the Wisconsin Department of Justice to pursue these penalties through legal channels. Furthermore, employers might also be obligated to remit unpaid wages resulting from the violation.

Male and Female Salaried Employees in Wisconsin

Under Wisconsin law (Wisconsin Statutes §111.36), employers are not allowed to discriminate against individuals based on their sex, specifically in matters of promotions and compensation for work that is equal or substantially similar, except in cases where sex is a genuine requirement for the job.

Further, the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act‘s equal-pay clause prohibits employers from paying different wages to employees of different sexes for work that is equal or substantially similar. This provision applies to jobs that are not necessarily identical but have comparable job content. The determination is based on the nature of the work itself, rather than the job titles. 

Leave Entitlements for Salaried Employees in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, various leave provisions cater to salaried employees. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical emergencies, including childbirth, adoption, or addressing health issues. To qualify, employees must have spent at least 12 months with the same employer and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours. Wisconsin law also protects employees who serve on juries or as witnesses, prohibiting employers from penalizing them for fulfilling civic duties.

Military leave, as governed by the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), grants uniformed service members unpaid leave for deployment, ensuring their return to the same position with retained benefits and seniority. Wisconsin employers must offer voting time leave, providing employees with up to three consecutive hours to vote. State employees who are certified American Red Cross members may be granted emergency response leave upon request for disaster relief efforts.

Additionally, public employees can accumulate sick leave at a rate of 5 hours per biweekly period, without a cap on carryover. Vacation and holiday leave for state employees are determined based on years of service and FLSA coverage, with tenure affecting the accrual of vacation hours.

Break Entitlements for Salaried Employees in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s employment regulations do not mandate specific meal breaks or rest periods for workers. However, if employers opt to offer such breaks, certain guidelines must be followed. Rest periods lasting up to 30 minutes must be compensated and counted as work time. Meal breaks, exceeding 30 minutes, can be unpaid, during which employees must be relieved from work duties and allowed to leave the workplace.

For minors in Wisconsin, an exception applies, granting them a 30-minute break after six consecutive hours of work. This represents the sole break exception within the state’s labor laws.

Deductions from Exempt Employees’ Salary in Wisconsin

Employers are restricted in their ability to deduct from an employee’s wages due to loss, theft, damage, or subpar workmanship, unless the deduction meets certain criteria:

  1. The deduction must be authorized in writing by the employee after the issue arises and before the deduction is executed.
  2. A representative of the employee must confirm that the employee is at fault and the deduction is permissible.
  3. The employee must have been legally determined to be guilty or responsible in a court of law.

An employer who deducts without satisfying these conditions could be liable for twice the deducted amount. It’s important to note that general authorizations are not valid; written consent from the employee is required for each specific incident.

Time-clock software now offers capabilities for calculating breaks and automated deductions, helping employers avoid legal infractions when ensuring precise payroll deductions.

Termination of Employment for Salaried Employees in Wisconsin

Similar to many states across the United States, Wisconsin adheres to the principle of “at-will employment” for termination scenarios. This implies that either the employer or employee retains the freedom to end the employment relationship without being obligated to provide a detailed rationale.

Upon termination, employers are obligated to provide the final paycheck to their employee(s) on the forthcoming payday. In cases where this requirement is not met, employees have the option to initiate a wage complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Learn more about Wisconsin Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for use of this guide.