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Are you an exempt or non-exempt worker?

When you look for a job online, you probably narrow down the offerings by searching the categories that best describe your skills. Whether it is management, technical, skilled, sales or others, these categories save you the time and energy of browsing through jobs that you would never want or for which you do not qualify.

However, all jobs fall into two main classifications when it comes to the federal government. You are either exempt or non-exempt. Having an accurate classification at work can make a huge difference in your pay and other areas.

Non-exempt employees and FLSA

If you have heard someone refer to a position at work as exempt or non-exempt, you may have wondered, "Exempt from what?" The fact is that these terms refer to the wage stipulations in the Fair Labor Standards Act. If you are exempt, these rules regarding pay do not include you. However, if you are non-exempt, the wage regulations in FLSA apply to you, and you have every right to see that you obtain the benefits FLSA provides for you, including:

  • Your employer must pay you at least minimum wage for every hour you work.
  • If you work 40 hours in a week, those hours after 40 are overtime and deserve overtime pay.
  • The federal standard for overtime pay is one-and-a-half times your usual hourly rate.
  • Your employer cannot make or allow you to work off the clock to keep you from earning overtime.

Employers typically pay exempt employees a salary instead of tracking their hours for a rate of pay. If you are an exempt employee, you usually do not receive overtime for working more than 40 hours a week, but your employer may offer other incentives, such as bonuses. Your pay may be based on other goals besides the number of hours you work. This benefits your employer, since exempt employees may work far beyond 40 hours in a week.

Pros and cons of each

You may be able to see benefits and drawbacks to both classifications of workers. For example, exempt employees make no overtime pay, but their starting salary is typically higher than a non-exempt worker. A non-exempt worker may not have a work schedule that is as flexible as an exempt employee, but once a non-exempt worker clocks out, his or her workday is finished.

What you may realize is that exempt workers may be more vulnerable to wage and hour abuses by their employers. Because of this, it may be helpful to seek the advice of an experienced employment law attorney in New York if you ever suspect your employer of violating your rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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