HR Support on the FLSA Professional Exemption

Editor's Note: Doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, architects and others can be exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirements.

Michael CardmanOverview: Two types of professionals are exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): learned professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers, and creative professionals, such as actors, musicians and visual artists.

The former are relatively easy to classify. The basic requirement is that learned professionals must be paid on a salary basis and perform work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning that is customarily acquired through a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.

The latter are somewhat more difficult to peg down. The general rule for employee classification is that creative professionals must be paid on a salary basis and perform work that requires invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.

Trends: Effective December 1, 2016, the minimum weekly salary for overtime-exempt professional employees will increase from $455 to $913. Starting in 2020, and every three years thereafter, the minimum salary level will be automatically adjusted based on the 40th percentile level of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census region.

Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor

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