Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Do you know? The FLSA’s Administrative Exemption

Do you know? What does it take for an employee to qualify under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s Administrative Exemption?

To qualify for the administrative employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week;

  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and

  • The employee’s primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

“Primary duty” means the principal, main, major or most important duty that the employee performs, with the major emphasis on the character of the employee’s job as a whole.

Work “directly related to management or general business operations” includes, but is not limited to, work in functional areas such as tax; finance; accounting; budgeting; auditing; insurance; quality control; purchasing; procurement; advertising; marketing; research; safety and health; personnel management; human resources; employee benefits; labor relations; public relations; government relations; computer network, Internet and database administration; legal and regulatory compliance; and similar activities. It’s work directly related to assisting with the running or servicing of the business, as distinguished from working on a manufacturing production line or selling a product in a retail or service establishment. It also covers employees acting as advisors or consultants to their employer’s clients or customers.

The exercise of discretion and independent judgment involves the comparison and the evaluation of possible courses of conduct and acting or making a decision after the various possibilities have been considered. It implies that the employee has authority to make an independent choice, free from immediate direction or supervision. Factors to consider include, but are not limited to:

  • whether the employee has authority to formulate, affect, interpret, or implement management policies or operating practices;
  • whether the employee carries out major assignments in conducting the operations of the business;
  • whether the employee performs work that affects business operations to a substantial degree;
  • whether the employee has authority to commit the employer in matters that have significant financial impact; and
  • whether the employee has authority to waive or deviate from established policies and procedures without prior approval.

“Matters of significance” refers to the level of importance or consequence of the work performed.

Information on other FLSA exemptions is also available:

Next week, we'll examine the Professional Exemption.