HR Support on the FLSA Professional Exemption

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

Michael CardmanOverview: Two types of professionals are exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and many state wage and hour laws: 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: Effective January 1, 2020, a final overtime rule from the US Department of Labor (DOL) increased the minimum salary for professional employees from $455 per week (or $23,660 per year) to $684 per week (or $35,568 per year). The rule also allows 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.

Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor

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