Job Title Alone Does Not Determine Exemption From Overtime Pay in Business and at Work


At best, determining an employee’s exemption from overtime (a.k.a. “exempt” status) is a case-by-case analysis exercise.

Make no mistake: job title alone does not make an employee exempt from overtime.  As explained on the U.S. DOL Wage & Hour Division website:

Job titles do not determine exempt status. In order for an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the Department’s regulations.

Simply put: if you give a secretary (or administrative assistant) in your organization the title of Director of Administration, that action alone does not make the job exempt from overtime.  Also from the Wage & Hour Division website:

To qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week.

In order to make the above determinations, an accurate and current job description for each of your organization’s employees must first be in place (among other data you must gather, including but not limited to the employee’s pay rate) to confirm (or deny) whether an employee is exempt from or eligible for overtime.

For many of my clients and colleagues, the clearest path to compliance is to make the majority of their employees hourly nonexempt, and therefore eligible for overtime (in New York state, overtime is paid for any hours worked over 40 in a work week – your state and/or municipal overtime mileage may vary).

I know – this subject is about as interesting as watching paint dry. What may pique your interest in the subject is that an employee misclassified as exempt from overtime who is actually eligible for overtime (and this is often determined independently by a DOL audit) can needlessly cost an organization thousands of dollars in back pay (over several years) and DOL-levied penalties.

If you do choose to classify eligible positions in your organization as exempt from overtime, ensure that your documentation and due diligence are in order to the satisfaction of state and federal DOL, in business and at work.

Weekly time sheet

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