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 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: The US Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed regulations that would, if finalized, increase the minimum salary from $455 per week to $679 per week (or from $23,660 per year to $35,308 per year). The proposed regulations also would allow employers to count nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level test, as long as they are paid annually or more frequently. The DOL projects the regulations will take effect January 2020.

Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor

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