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Classifying employees as exempt from overtime

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2021 | Employment Law For Employers

While the standard workweek is 40 hours, there is no legal limit on the number of hours employees (ages 16 and up) are allowed to work each week. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), covered, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime wages for any hours worked over 40 per workweek, at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay.

To determine who is entitled to receive overtime pay, employers must first classify each worker as exempt or non-exempt.

Who is exempt from overtime?

Employees that do not qualify for an exemption listed in the FLSA are classified as non-exempt and are entitled to overtime pay for the extra hours they work. However, exempt employees are not entitled to overtime.

Generally, an exempt employee must be salaried, must earn at least $684 per week ($35,568 annually), and must be paid a salary for each week they work.

Additionally, exempt employees are usually ‘white collar’ employees that meet the criteria for an exemption listed in the FLSA. The employees that are exempt typically fall under one of the following six categories:

  • Executive
  • Administrative
  • Professional
  • Computer
  • Outside sales
  • Highly compensated

Each exemption has its own criteria specifying the primary duties an employee must have to qualify the employee as exempt under that exemption.

While these exemptions cover most exempt employees, there are a few other types of employees that may also be exempt (e.g. farmworkers, railroad employees). States also have their own specific guidelines for classifying exempt workers.

It can be difficult to determine whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay. If you are involved in an overtime dispute, an employment law attorney in your area can review your case and help you resolve your issues.