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How do I know if am nonexempt or exempt?

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Monique asked 3 months ago
My job is making me work so many hours before I can get overtime.

1 Answer
Riia O’Donnell replied 3 months ago
Monique,

I want to respond to both parts of your question. First you want to know if you’re exempt or non-exempt; then I believe you want to know why your employer makes you work so many hours before you receive overtime pay.

If you are receiving overtime pay for any hours you work, your organization apparently has classified you as non-exempt. The number of hours you work before you’re eligible are based on law, but let’s tackle both issues.

First, are you exempt or non-exempt? Exempt workers receive a weekly (or biweekly) salary that isn’t based on how many hours they work. They generally receive the same amount of pay every paycheck. Non-exempt workers are paid for each hour worked. Their wages can vary week to week depending on how many hours they put in or are scheduled for.

Employers are required to correctly categorize workers as exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Some states add to the federal categories with additional (not fewer) guidelines on who is exempt and who is non-exempt. Here’s more detail on exempt/non-exempt categories:

Under federal guidance, exempt employees are categorized based on salary; position in the organization (executives, professionals and administrators); and duties. If you manage others; perform administrative management duties; or are considered a ‘learned professional’ like a scientist or hold an advanced degree, you are exempt. This means you are not eligible for overtime pay.
Workers who do not fit into the ‘exempt’ category are considered non-exempt, and therefore eligible for overtime pay. Non-exempt workers are paid based on the number of hours worked per week – this ‘hourly’ pay entitles you to overtime pay. Again, if you’ve received any overtime pay from your employer, they’ve categorized you as non-exempt and therefore eligible for overtime.

The next part of your question is that your company is making you work many hours before you get overtime pay. Eligibility for overtime pay is based on the hours worked per workweek. Workweeks are seven consecutive days (not just Monday through Sunday) that you work or are scheduled to work.

Under FLSA rules, you are eligible for time and half (overtime) pay when you work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Depending on where you work, you could eligible for additional overtime pay based on your location. In California, for example, workers must receive overtime pay for every workday that lasts more than 8 hours and/or for every workweek that includes more than 40 hours. In Colorado, workers earn overtime for more than 12 hours per workday and/or for more than 40 hours in workweek. Here is a chart of Overtime Regulations by State. 

you’ll want to check to see what’s required where you live and work.

Assuming your state goes only by federal guidelines, you are eligible for and must be paid overtime pay for every hour (or portion of an hour) you work in excess of 40 hours per workweek. If your state offers additional overtime allotments, and you work those hours, it’s not optional for your employer to pay overtime – it’s the law. If you believe you have not been paid earned overtime, talk to your payroll/HR Department to find out why they think you were not eligible. If they are incorrect or unwilling to pay, you can file a complaint with your local Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division. They will examine your records and get you any pay (including back-pay) that you earned and deserve.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below.

Riia O’Donnell

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