How to Determine if an Employee Qualifies for the Administrative Exemption

Authors: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor, and Allen S. Kinzer, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

The administrative exemption is perhaps the most difficult FLSA exemption to apply because many of the key terms that are used in deciding whether an employee qualifies are open to interpretation. In short, administrators help a business to run. But not all administrators will qualify. To be exempt, an administrator must be relatively independent and perform work that is vital to his or her employer's success. For example, administrative assistants to senior-level executives who have been delegated authority over significant matters will usually qualify, but lower-level administrative assistants who support mid-level managers or are responsible for little more than data-entry, filing or typing will most certainly not. Follow these steps to determine whether an employee qualifies for the administrative exemption.

Note: The US Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed regulations that would, if implemented, raise the minimum salary for exempt administrative employees to an estimated $970 per week, or $50,440 per year, starting in 2016. This minimum salary level would then be adjusted annually. See Employee Classification > Future Developments.