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Index > Operations Policies > Exempt and Nonexempt Pay Policy

Exempt and Nonexempt Pay Policy


All positions at Rhode Island School of Design, including student employees, are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Rhode Island labor laws. The FLSA is a federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, and record keeping requirements. It also specifies the narrowly defined and limited exceptions which are used to determine if a position is exempt from overtime pay provisions. Human Resources determines whether non-student positions are exempt (salaried) or nonexempt (hourly) based on FLSA criteria.

The FLSA 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 work week, unless the position is determined to be exempt. RI state law also contains provisions relating to overtime, minimum wage and wage payments.


Exempt (Salaried)
To determine whether a job is exempt (not subject to overtime and minimum wage provisions) or non-exempt, the position must meet certain test requirements as established by the Department of Labor regarding job duties and must be paid on a salary basis of not less than the minimum salary threshold established by the Department of Labor (“DoL”). Job titles by themselves do not determine exempt status. In order for an exemption to apply, both an employee’s specific job duties and their salary must meet all the requirements of the DoL’s regulations.

The five primary categories of potentially exempt employees are for those employed as bonafide executive, administrative, professional, certain computer, and outside sales employees. In addition, teachers can be considered exempt if their primary duty is teaching.

Exempt employees routinely receive their full salary for any week in which they perform any work, without regard to the number of days or hours worked. Deductions to pay must be made in full day increments. If exempt employees work any hours during a day, they must be paid for the full day, with few exceptions. Before reducing or docking an exempt employee’s salary, the manager must contact Human Resources for approval of the exception and to assist with its processing.

Recordkeeping for an exempt employee’s time away from work is maintained in Workday.

Nonexempt (Hourly)
Employees are considered nonexempt when they earn less than the salary threshold or (even if they earn that or more) when they do not meet the duties requirements of any of the exemption tests.

Hourly employees must be paid on set pay dates for hours worked within the corresponding pay period. Hours may not be accrued to be used at a later time and wage payments may not be delayed for hourly employees.

All nonexempt employees who work in excess of 40 hours in a work week must be paid time and a half for time worked in excess of 40 hours in a 7-day work week.

All overtime hours must be approved in advance by the supervisor and employees may not work hours beyond their scheduled hours without prior permission from their supervisor. Each supervisor is responsible for assessing the need for overtime; however, if an employee works unapproved overtime during a work week, those hours must be paid.

Supervisors will attempt to accommodate within reason employees who, for personal reasons, have difficulty complying with an overtime request. Accommodation is subject to the minimum operating requirements of the department.

RISD’s 7-day work week for calculating overtime runs from Saturday beginning at 12:01am through Friday at midnight.

When calculating hours worked for overtime pay, the following are treated as time worked:

  • Paid holidays
  • Bereavement days
  • Jury duty
  • Military leave
  • Personal days
  • Vacation days

Sick time, whether standard sick time or Workers Compensation time, is not counted as hours worked for overtime purposes.

Overtime is calculated for the following respective work schedules:

  • Employees working in nonexempt positions with a normal schedule of 35 hours per week will be paid straight time for hours worked between 35 and 40 hours and time and a half for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours.
  • Employees working in nonexempt positions with a normal schedule of 40 hours per week will be paid time and a half for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours.
  • Part-time employees working in nonexempt positions are paid at their regular rates of pay for hours worked up to 40 hours and then at time and a half for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours.

Compensatory Time Off for Employees in Nonexempt Positions
Compensatory time off in lieu of pay for overtime is not permitted under RI state law. Schedule changes may be made in lieu of overtime pay only if it can be accomplished within the same work week, not the same payroll period. Under no circumstances may such compensatory schedule changes be carried forward into the next work week.

Employees Holding Multiple Positions
Employees who take on assignments in addition to their primary position at RISD are responsible to ensure that their obligations to their primary position and department are being met in addition to balancing the responsibilities of their additional assignment.

Sunday Pay for Employees in Nonexempt Positions As a higher educational institution, RISD provides certain services such as housing, food service and public safety 24 hours per day and seven days a week. As such, employees are paid their regular hourly rates when working on Sunday.

Minimum Number of Hours for Nonexempt Staff
Nonexempt Staff who report to work for a shift scheduled for three hours or more will be paid a minimum of three hours regardless of whether three hours of work was performed. Nonexempt Staff who report to work for a shift scheduled (by agreement) for less than three hours will be paid only for the actual amount of time they spend working.

Pay for Seminars, Training, and Travel for Employees in Nonexempt Positions
Employees are not compensated for commuting to and from their standard work location, as such time is not normally considered time worked.

Seminars and training sessions required by RISD are counted as time worked and, as such, are subject to the FLSA requirements. Travel time to and from the training/seminar location, when it is different from the employee’s standard work location, is considered work time, less the time it would normally take the employee to travel to work at their standard location. During the actual training/seminar, only scheduled seminar hours are compensable; meals, breaks, and study time are not.

When a nonexempt employee must travel overnight in connection with their job, travel time as a passenger is not considered compensable unless one works during travel. Travel time is also compensable when the travel hours cut across the employee’s regular scheduled work hours.

New employees who attend RISD orientation prior to their start date must be paid for attending.

On-Call Pay for Employees in Nonexempt Positions
A nonexempt employee who, after completing their regularly scheduled workday, is called back by a supervisor for emergency work after leaving the premises is paid at time and a half of the hourly rate for any hours worked on a call-back basis. A minimum of four hours at a rate of time and a half must be paid for any call-back. If an employee is called back within four (4) hours of the initial call-back, they will only be paid for actual hours worked beyond the initial four (4) hours.

The following rules apply to On-Call Pay for Employees in Nonexempt Positions:

  • When a nonexempt employee is on-call and is required to remain on RISD’s premises, they are considered to be working and must be compensated
  • If a nonexempt employee is not required to remain on RISD’s premises, but must carry a cell phone or is required to provide contact information, they are not considered to be working unless and until called in.
  • If an employee is called in to work, they must be paid for a minimum of four hours or the actual hours worked, whichever is greater.
  • In instances when an employee’s presence is not required and a phone call suffices, an employee is paid for the length of the phone call.

Lunch Periods
There is a daily, unpaid meal period scheduled by the supervisor and/or determined by the needs of that office or department. Meal periods are staggered to provide continuous coverage in offices that need to remain open throughout the day. Meal periods are typically either one-half hour or one hour, depending on normal work week schedules. By Rhode Island law, a non-exempt employee is entitled to a minimum of a 20-minute unpaid meal time when working a shift of 6 or more hours, and a 30-minute unpaid meal time when working a shift of 8 or more hours.

Rest or Break Periods
It is general practice for RISD to allow two 15-minute, on-campus, rest or break periods (usually mid-morning and mid-afternoon) in the course of a work day, if work permits. Rest periods are paid time and are scheduled by the supervisor in accordance with the needs of each department or office. Time allowed for rest and break periods is neither cumulative nor compensatory. Other than during luncheon periods, employees are requested not to leave campus unless it is in conjunction with a work assignment. If the need arises for an employee to be away from the premises, the supervisor should be consulted before the employee leaves campus.

Human Resources, Payroll, and RISD Departments: Responsible for ensuring all employees are paid in accordance with federal and state laws, and paying employees for all hours worked.

Human Resources: Responsible for evaluating all job descriptions, determining whether positions are exempt or nonexempt.

Supervisors: Responsible for ensuring all Nonexempt Staff are paid in accordance with state and federal laws, entering time on behalf of a Nonexempt employee not able submit time, and approving time worked. Supervisors are responsible for assessing the need for work in excess of an employee’s normal schedule and to approve/decline additional hours in advance of the work.

Nonexempt Staff: Nonexempt Staff are required to obtain supervisory approval prior to working any additional hours outside of regularly scheduled hours, including hours worked outside of their primary department. Nonexempt Staff are responsible for submitting accurate time each week. They must seek approval prior to accepting an additional RISD work assignment outside of their primary position.

Exempt Staff: Responsible for submitting a complaint in writing to Human Resources if they believe their pay is incorrect due to applied pay deductions. The complaint should include the dates and circumstances of the pay deduction and whether it has occurred on other occasions.

Consequences for Violating this Policy
Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment, in accordance with applicable disciplinary procedures.


Exempt employees are required to maintain accurate records of time away from work including but not limited to vacation, sick and personal time. Exception time (vacation, sick and personal time) will be requested and maintained in Workday. Nonexempt employees are expected to maintain accurate records of all time worked. Employees maintaining time records in Workday must enter their time on a weekly basis, but are strongly encouraged to do so on a daily basis to ensure their time is accurately captured. Falsification of college records, including time and attendance records, is considered serious in nature and could result in disciplinary action.

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Revision history

This policy was approved as of: 4/7/2019

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 4/8/2021

Next scheduled review: 4/8/2022


Issuing Office

Human Resources

Responsible Officer

Vice President for Human Resources

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director of Employment

Office of the General Counsel