The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to classify positions as either exempt or non-exempt.
The differences between exempt and non-exempt employees can be somewhat confusing, but require careful consideration by employers. Based on FLSA guidelines, employers must consider whether a job is exempt or non-exempt taking into consideration:
- What types of duties or responsibilities are inherent in the role
- Salary or pay
Resources abound on the web that provide concise overviews for employers regarding how to determine whether a job is exempt versus non-exempt. An article from the webpage of Chamberlain Kaufman and Jones does a great job of highlighting the differences in layman’s terms: Coverage Under the FLSA.
In short, an exempt (salaried) employee is not eligible for overtime. A non-exempt (hourly) employee is eligible for overtime pay. There are some exceptions for certain types of exempt staff in terms of overtime eligibility, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the basics related to exempt and non-exempt.
- Definition of an exempt employee – An employer must pay the employee a salary, as opposed to an hourly wage for the position to be considered exempt.
- Definition of a non-exempt employee – Non-exempt employees receive an hourly wage and remain protected under the FLSA.
Difference in Wage
Pay for non-exempt versus exempt staff can vary, although a non-exempt employee may earn less than an exempt employee does.
The expectation of exempt employees is that they work until the work is completed, despite the number of hours it takes to complete a task. If necessary, an exempt employee must arrive early or stay late to complete his tasks, without additional pay.
A non-exempt employee generally works the number of hours that the employer prescribes. If a non-exempt employee works beyond 40 hours in a work week, their employer is required by law to pay the employee at the rate of one-and-a-half times his hourly rate for all hours worked past 40-hours in a work week.
To learn more about pay requirements as it relates to the FLSA, click here.
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