Many employees feel being salaried (exempt) is a status symbol. Many employers love it because they don’t have to worry about overtime or timecards. However, whether or not an employee is exempt or non-exempt isn’t your choice or the employee’s choice. Both the state and federal governments assume everyone is hourly (non-exempt) unless you can prove the employee meets the legal qualifications for being exempt.
Legally qualifying the position includes meeting the minimum salary required (currently $41,600, regardless of how few or how many hours are worked). The other qualifying test is based on duties and responsibilities and, in some cases, training or education. Unfortunately, the government has given us fairly subjective guidelines for some of the exemptions, making it harder to ensure you have made the right decision.
There are many positions that both employers and employees believe are exempt but they don’t meet the legal qualifications. Assistant Managers and Administrative Assistants fall into this category, among others. Don’t assume any position is automatically exempt based on the title. When the employee is working within a “box” you’ve created, it’s much less likely they will be making major business decisions or policies on their own at a high level.
Misclassification as an exempt position can be a costly issue. Take the time to ensure the position truly qualifies for the exemption, regardless of what title you’ve used.
About Your Columnist
CJ Westrick is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers all things human resources and managing people in the workplace. CJ Westrick, SPHR, has been in human resources (HR) management for over 20 years and has maintained her SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) national certification since 2002. She started HR Jungle, a human resources consulting firm, in 2006 to provide senior-level HR expertise to businesses without internal HR.