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Hours of Work

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015


This policy establishes the official workweek at Vanderbilt. Because of the differing nature of our business, departmental guidelines determine employee scheduling needs and should be communicated to employees as part of their orientation.


The official workweek for employee payroll begins at midnight on Sunday and ends at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. 1 Each department determines the work schedule and hours for employees as necessary for its operation. Full time employees work at least 30 hours per week. However, work schedules may vary among departments including differing full time, part-time, prn (per diem), required overtime, flexible and seasonal schedules to accommodate the operational needs of the department. (See Alternative Work Arrangements Policy). Employees are expected to work their regular schedule based on standard hours or the full time equivalent (FTE) for each work week or supplement non-worked time up to their FTE or standard hours with the use of flex PTO. Hourly employees must accurately record all worked time using the record keeping system (i.e. Kronos or timesheets) in place for the employee's department. The time record must accurately reflect any unpaid breaks (i.e. meal or breaks for breastfeeding mothers) taken during the workday. Adjustments to the assigned schedule 2 cannot be made without prior approval of the supervisor.


Employees are paid for the work performed as regulated under applicable state and federal laws. Employees are expected to work their regular scheduled shift.

I. Non-Exempt Employees (Hourly Paid)

Supervisory notification and approval is needed for an hourly paid employee to arrive early or leave prior to the end of the work day or scheduled shift. If alternative notification options are available for emergency situations, those options should be communicated to all employees in the department.

A. Unpaid Breaks

  1. Meal Period: Employees who work six or more consecutive hours a day are required to take an uninterrupted 3 meal break of at least 30 minutes away from the work area. However, schedules for meal breaks are based upon the operational needs of the work area. Vanderbilt generally recognizes a meal break as unpaid time for which an employee is relieved from work for a period of time.

    Any non-exempt employees who do not receive an uninterrupted meal break of at least 30 minutes are required to notify their supervisor and report the time worked on their time record. If an employee is interrupted more than twice and/or more than a total of 4 minutes for work related tasks, the employee should be paid for the entire 30 minute meal. Additionally, the supervisor should reschedule the 30 minute meal break later in the shift.
  2. Breaks for Breastfeeding Mothers: Reasonable break periods will be provided for a breastfeeding mother to express breast milk for her child for one (1) year after the child's birth. Designated locations 4 , other than restrooms, shielded from public view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public will be provided for the breaks. The breaks will need to be documented and reported as non-worked time.

    Breastfeeding mothers requiring these breaks should make the request to the immediate supervisor or manager and communicate the frequency and duration of the breaks.

B. Paid Breaks

Scheduled Rest Breaks: Generally, most work areas within Vanderbilt allow for an appropriate amount of break time within the work day as needed. However, jobs that cannot be left unattended such as nurses and other clinical employees, receptionists and switchboard operators, are permitted, at a minimum, one 10 minute paid break after 4 hours as part of the normal work day. Supervisors should identify the standards for breaks in their area and communicate the same to both the relief person and employees working the position. Breaks are to be utilized consistently for all employees 5 . Unapproved, extended breaks 6 will be addressed by the Attendance and Punctuality Policy.

Paid rest break guidelines are as follows:

  1. Supervisors reserve the right to change rest break period time or deny rest break periods to ensure departmental needs are being met.
  2. An employee is not permitted to accumulate unused rest breaks nor may the rest break be used to cover an employee's late arrival or early departure from work.
  3. Employees on a rest break should remain in the work area or close proximity to be available if needed.

C. Other

  1. Overtime: Non-exempt (hourly paid) employees must be paid for all hours worked whether preapproved or not. However, failure to adhere to departmental procedures for preapproval of overtime will be addressed through the Performance Management process (see Performance Accountability and Commitment policy and Progressive Discipline policy). Non-exempt (hourly paid) employees who work in excess of 40 hours during the work week, must be paid at the employee's overtime rate for the hours worked in excess of 40 hours.

    NOTE: Time taken as paid time off or non-worked paid hours are not used for the purpose of calculating overtime.
  2. Compensatory Time Off: Vanderbilt, as a private institution, cannot allow employees to "bank" time worked and grant it as "time off" at a later date as many public institutions are allowed to do. Therefore, time off granted as compensatory must be approved and administered within the same pay period it is worked.

    Managers have the option to adjust the employee's daily schedule 7 during a work week in order to offset any hours worked beyond the regular schedule. In a work week where hours worked are 40, or less than 40, the calculation of compensatory time is hour for hour.

    Non-exempt (hourly paid) employees granted compensatory time off for hours worked over 40 in the first week of the pay period must be allowed to take the time off in the second week of the same pay period in which it is worked; and the compensatory time off provided during the second week must be computed at the rate of one and one half times for hours worked over 40 in the previous week (based on the required overtime calculation)..

    Non-exempt (hourly paid) employees are required to document and report all time worked in any pay period accurately. Compensatory time off is not applicable for exempt employees. Due to the complexity of administration of compensatory time off, it is not recommended for use on a regular basis. For questions, contact Human Resources.
  3. Differential Pay: Departments that schedule eligible non-exempt (hourly paid) employees on evening, night or weekend shifts will pay a shift differential.
  4. Holiday Pay: When non-exempt (hourly paid) employees work on the actual calendar holiday (sometimes the observed day is different than the actual calendar holiday), they are eligible to receive holiday pay. Holiday pay is in addition to base pay, and in addition to any applicable shift differential. Each holiday covers the 24-hour period that begins at 12:00 midnight on the actual holiday, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on the same day. Holiday pay only applies to the hours worked during the 24-hour period. Designated holidays are listed in the Paid Time Off policy.
  5. On-call: Some departments provide on-call compensation if they require non-exempt (hourly paid) employees to be available during a specified period other than their regular shift. On-call pay is for hours that an employee is "on-call" while off the premises and required to be available if called in to work within a specified period of time.

    Individuals on-call during the 24-hour holiday period receive holiday pay only for those hours actually worked if they are called in.
  6. Standby: If non-exempt (hourly paid) employees are required to remain available (but not actually working) on the premises or in close proximity, waiting time should be considered hours worked. Please contact Human Resources for further information regarding standby pay.
  7. Office Closing: Departments that have a need to suspend operations or close the office due to business reasons may do so with the appropriate administrative approval. If a department operates with a "skeletal staff" or closes based on a business need (such as the Friday after Thanksgiving, power outages, etc.), the department may provide the following time reporting options to employees, see options below:

    a. Nonexempt employees use their PTO to supplement any non-worked hours up to their standard hours/FTE.

    b. Exempt employees use their PTO to supplement any non-worked days up to their standard hours/FTE. Reductions to pay for exempt employees affected by departmental or service closures are handled in accordance with applicable law and regulations.
  8. Vanderbilt University Sponsored Activities: Employees are encouraged to attend University Sponsored events. Non-exempt employees attending University sponsored events should gain supervisor approval prior to attending. If approval is provided by the supervisor, the time away from work that is a part of their normal work day is paid.
  9. Travel Time: On occasion, non-exempt employees may be required to travel for Vanderbilt related purposes. The following guidelines should be used when determining when travel time is considered "work time" and therefore must be paid:

    Travel time considered work time includes:
    a. Participating in any business related activities at a conference or seminar.
    b. Participating in social activities where attendance is required.
    c. Traveling out of town for Vanderbilt related reasons, regardless of the day/time.
    d. Traveling between work locations during the workday.
    e. Traveling from the office to a local airport, bus depot, or train station, or vice versa.

    Travel time not considered work time includes:
    a. Participating in social activities where attendance is not required.
    b. Sleeping.
    c. Non-work related meal breaks.
    d. Traveling from home to a local airport, bus depot or train station, or vice versa.
    e. Traveling from home to an in-town conference. However, mileage may be reimbursable.
    f. Traveling from home to a regular designated work location or vice versa.
  10. Training/Conference Time: Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs, seminars or similar activities are counted as hours worked when the training is related to the employee's job. Employees should obtain supervisory approval prior to attending such programs.

II. Exempt Employees (Salaried)

Exempt employees are paid on a salaried basis. Exempt employees are expected to adhere to the standard hours/FTE for the position and the regular work week of the department. Exempt employees are also required to work any hours necessary to perform the duties of the job. Exempt employees generally do not receive overtime, compensatory time, or additional pay for hours worked or travel time outside their regular schedule.

A. Vanderbilt is committed to compliance with all applicable federal and state wage and hour laws 8 . Deductions from the salary of exempt employees are prohibited, whether for quality or quantity of work, discipline, violations of workplace conduct rules, or otherwise, unless authorized by law.

B. Any employee who believes that an improper deduction was made from their salary should discuss the situation with their supervisor. If the complaint is not resolved to the employee's satisfaction, the employee's Human Resources consultant should be contacted. After an investigation, if a deduction is determined to have been improper, the employee will be paid the correct amount.

C. Exempt employees are responsible for accurately reporting any use of PTO. Exempt employees should report time away from work in full day increments. If substantive work is performed in a day, salary is continued without the use of PTO for that day.

III. Time Reporting

Each department is responsible for maintaining accurate time and attendance records. For each non-exempt employee, a time record must be completed for each day and submitted by pay period.

Non-exempt employees are required to:

  1. Report actual time worked.
  2. Take an uninterrupted meal break of at least 30 minutes if working 6 or more hours
  3. Accurately record meal break.
  4. Properly cancel a meal break that has been interrupted.
  5. Report PTO per policy.
  6. Approve time record as required.
  7. Notify the department manager of needed edits.

Departmental Managers are required to approve an employee’s time record to ensure the verification of all hours reported. The time record must record the total number of hours actually worked each day, as well as the number of flex PTO (if applicable) paid up to standard hours or FTE. Time records must be an accurate reflection of both work and non-work time and cannot be adjusted without prior approval. Falsification of a time record may be grounds to end employment.

This policy is intended as a guideline to assist in the consistent application of University policies and programs for employees. The policy does not create a contract implied or expressed, with any Vanderbilt employees, who are employees at will. Vanderbilt reserves the right to modify this policy in whole or in part, at any time, at the discretion of the University.

Approved by Traci K. Nordberg, Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor

Approved by Eric Kopstain, Vice Chancellor for Administration


1 Employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement should refer to the agreement for their work week.

2 Employees who may require adjustments to their assigned schedule as a reasonable accommodation for a disability should contact the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Disability Services Department (EAD).

3 Uninterrupted is defined as "a period of at least 30 minutes during which the employee is not interrupted more than twice or for a total of no more than four minutes for any work-related reason."

4 The following link provides a list of spaces available within the various divisions of the organization. Lactation Break Locations.

5 Employees who may require additional break time as a reasonable accommodation for a disability should contact the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Disability Services Department (EAD).

6 Employees who smoke are not entitled to any more breaks than other employees (See HR Smoking, Tobacco, and e-Cigarettes policy).

7 See FAQs for examples of how to administer applicable schedule modifications.

 8 Reasonable break periods will be provided for a nursing mother, in an exempt position, to express breast milk for her child for one (1) year after the child's birth. Designated locations, other than restrooms, shielded from public view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public will be provided for the breaks. For designated locations, see footnote 3 above.