Types of Exempt Employees

Under federal and state laws, certain employees are exempt from hour and wage requirements, which include overtime pay requirements. California’s exemption requirements are more restrictive than federal law. Therefore, some federal standards are ineffective for California employees. It is often difficult to distinguish between exempt and nonexempt employees. Exempt employees usually hold executive, administrative, or professional positions.

In general, the executive exemption pertains to managerial employees. There are situations, however, in which managers are classified as nonexempt because they do not meet the executive exemption. Salaries and responsibilities should be considered when determining whether an employee is exempt. Exempt duties must have a direct relation with managerial work. Some examples of exempt duties include: hiring employees, directing work, assessing employees’ productivity, and ensuring safety of employees. Examples of nonexempt duties include: executing the same kind of work as secondary employees, performing any production work, and performing maintenance work. Sometimes there are instances in which otherwise nonexempt duties are considered exempt duties. An employee who has a managerial title but mostly performs nonexempt duties is referred to as a “working manager.” Working managers are nonexempt employees, but are often misclassified as exempt. Furthermore, assistant managers and apartment managers are typically considered nonexempt.

The administrative exemption pertains to a large variety of employees. It is important to note that many employees whose jobs entail administrative work are classified as nonexempt. Administrative employees who could qualify for an exemption are: administrative or executive assistants, staff employees who are functional rather than department heads, and employees who execute special assignments under limited supervision. In California, it is extremely difficult for an employee to meet the administrative exemption. The California courts focus on whether an employee is involved in running the employer’s business and controlling the execution of its policies. Employees who are ineligible for the administrative exemption do not contribute to policy making and do not have an impact on the operation of the company.

There are distinctive legal requirements that an employee must meet in order to qualify for the professional exemption. According to California’s Wage Order 4, artistic or learned professions are classified as nonexempt. These professions include artists, librarians, photographers, and social workers. There are particular professions that are classified as exempt from the IWC Wage Orders. These professions include physicians, attorneys, engineers, and certified public accountants. The professions that are not exempt from the Wage Orders include nurses, paralegals, unlicensed engineers, and uncertified accountants.