How to Determine if a Job is Exempt or Non-Exempt

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The terms non-exempt and exempt can cause a lot of confusion for workers and employers. Exemption status determines if you receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a work week. The exemptions are governed by the Fair Labors Standard Act (FLSA).


Non-exempt employees must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime pay for any work performed over 40 hours worked in a week. This time must be paid at a rate of time and one half of their regular pay rate for each hour of overtime.


Exempt employees are not granted the same protection under the FLSA, therefore they are paid the same dollar amount regardless of the number of hours worked in a week. Exemptions from the overtime requirements of the FLSA are just that—exceptions to the rule. They are very narrowly construed, and as the employer, you will always bear the burden of proving that you have correctly classified an employee as exempt. When in doubt on the classification of a job, it is best to make them non-exempt.

For most professions, an individual is an exempt employee if he or she meets all of the following three tests: 

  1. Is paid at least $23,000 per year ($455 per week)
  2. Is paid on a salary basis
  3. Performs exempt job duties

But how do you know if the individual performs exempt duties?  As a general rule, exempt employees tend to perform relatively high-level duties with respect to the company’s overall operations.

The most common FLSA exemptions are white collar exemptions and are broken down into five main categories, including: 

  1. Executive
  2. Administrative
  3. Professional
  4. Outside sales
  5. Computer

Other issues

There are also some other concerns to consider when determining non-exempt and exempt status.

  • Time off. Although there are exceptions, it’s usually illegal to give non-exempt employees time off instead of paying them overtime.
  • Child labor. Federal and state laws include special requirements to protect workers under the age of 18. These laws can affect the type of work, wages, and hours that an employee can complete.
  • Breaks. Employers need to make sure they follow federal and state law requirements regarding breaks, including meal breaks, for their employees.

If you have any additional questions regarding non-exempt and exempt employees, and are an ERC Member, contact our HR Help Desk or visit the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) FLSA page at

By providing you with information that may be contained in this article, the Employers Resource Council (ERC) is not providing a qualified legal opinion concerning any particular human resource issue. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application.  We also recommend that you consult your legal counsel regarding workplace matters when and if appropriate.

HR, compliance, termination, or compensation questions?

ERC has a team of HR Help Desk Advisors to provide timely and trusted answers.

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Yelling at Co-Workers and Employees: Is It Ok?

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employee conduct in the workplace Yelling at Co-Workers and Employees: Is It Ok?

Yelling; it’s a part of human communication. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes not. People yell for many different reasons. Maybe it’s to assert themselves over others, or to make their presence known. Maybe they want to incite confrontation or satisfy an ego.

However, what if this is a common practice at your workplace? With any organization, employees at all levels of the business are expected to treat each other with respect. The success of your business heavily depends on co-operation and teamwork among all employees. It’s all about workplace civility.
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The Unique World of “Leave of Absence” Policies

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When an employee takes a “leave of absence," this time away from work can take many forms depending on the situation. From the Family & Medical Leave to Short Term Disability to jury duty to bereavement to military leave, these various policies and structures do share the common purpose of allowing an employee to take time away from work above and beyond vacation time or sick days, while also protecting the employer from potential abuses of these leave requests.

Ultimately, assuming that the employee meets and abides by all of the necessary requirements during the agreed upon leave of absence, the goal for both parties is that their job (or at least a similar position) will be waiting when they are ready and able to return to the workforce. But as is often the case in the world of Human Resources, the application of these laws and policies to the real life situations encountered in the workplace is less than clear cut.
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Make Mentoring Meaningful

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Make Mentoring Meaningful

Complex human resource challenges such as increasing employee retention and improving workforce productivity are common concerns to have in your organization.

According to, corporate mentoring is on the rise, with 71% of Fortune 500 companies offering some type of mentoring program to their employees.
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Download: Editable Meeting Agenda [PDF]

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Download: Editable Meeting Agenda [PDF]

In "Step 2" of our article about taking your meetings from unproductive to motivating, we identified setting an agenda as an important step to conducting a successful meeting. As a follow up, here's a free resource that will help you set a meeting agenda. This PDF download includes space for meeting details, topics, meeting attendees/stakeholders, desired results, and notes.

Download our Editable Meeting Agenda

Editable Meeting AgendaLooking to take your meetings to the next level? ERC offers Effective Meetings Training to help your team learn the tools to plan and conduct effective meetings to maximize participation and achieve desired outcomes.

ERC delivers training for organizations on how to lead effective meetings.

View the Training

Women’s History for Today’s Workplace

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Women's History for Today's Workplace

In March of 2015, the U.S. military’s oldest living female veteran, Lucy Coffey, passed away at age 108. At the time, 1943 to be exact, it took Coffey three attempts to successfully enlist in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. She was one of only about 400,000 women who served in uniform during World War II. With its iconic “Rosie the Riveter” image, World War II became a major turning point both in terms of women’s enlistment in the armed services as well as in stateside employment to fill the manufacturing jobs left open by the young men off at war.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close at the end of March, let’s take a quick look at where we’ve been, the progress that has been made, and the barriers that continue to complicate male and female equality in the workplace.
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I Used to Be Their Friend, Now I'm Their Boss

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Friendships in the workplace aren’t bad (in fact, they can be very positive), but young workers have a tendency to view their coworkers as friends more than other employees. When friends start getting promoted and managing one another, these relationships can pose problems.

How to identify the ‘friend’

This is a leader that is congenial, well-liked, and has above average soft-skills. They are extremely supportive of their employees and approach management interactions more like coworker relationships.

This individual refrains from having tough or crucial conversations with their employees and fails to acknowledge or manage conflict, frequently avoiding it altogether.

They often don’t manage performance well, and put up with poor results to maintain a positive relationship.

In essence, they focus on being their employees’ friend, rather than their manager or leader. In fact, some of these leaders may be managing previous coworkers or friends of theirs. They may even engage in behaviors that are considered unprofessional for a leader, such as participating in informal social activities, becoming Facebook friends with their subordinates, or gossiping about other employees.

How to develop

This individual doesn’t necessarily need training in soft skills, but does need training on core management principles, such as performance management, feedback, and conflict management.

These will be uncomfortable topics for this individual that you may need to address multiple times. They may also need to be coached on how to balance creating supportive relationships and interactions with their employees with results and getting the job done.

Some will also need to better understand the role of the leader and how to act professionally with their employees.

Supervisory Training

A lot of the time, an employee who has recently been promoted to a supervisor role doesn't always have the resources available to them to be a successful leader. By sending your employee through a supervisor training series, it will teach them the fundamental topics that any manager would need in order to lead in the most effective manner.

In the end, it will not only benefit the employee, but also the company to have a well-skilled supervisor helping operate the organization.

Interested in learning more about training your supervisors?

Submit your contact information and receive instant access to a video highlighting our process and a brochure featuring our courses, delivery methods, and success stories.

Preview Supervisory Training


What Are the Changes to the New FMLA Ruling?

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What Are the Changes to the New FMLA Ruling? recent fmla changes fmla updates

As of March 27, 2015,  another change to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will be followed by employers nationwide. There is now a revised definition of “spouse” and it includes same-sex married couples in all 50 states.

 The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a change to the FMLA’s definition of “spouse.” The recent FMLA changes are stated as:
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