Highly Skilled Employees
State and federal wage and hour laws require almost all employees to be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of 12 per day or 40 per week. This general rule even applies to most salaried employees. The law does allow a limited exemption from overtime for certain salaried “professional” workers. Unfortunately, this “professional exemption” is abused by many employers who illegally treat highly skilled technical or creative workers as “professionals” in order to avoid overtime pay.
To qualify for the professional overtime exemption, a particular employee: 1) must be paid on a salary basis (with no changes to that salary based on, for example, missing days of work); 2) must have a primary duty of performing work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning; and 3) must have acquired that knowledge through a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction. Generally, the worker must be a highly trained professional in law, medicine, accounting, engineering, pharmacy or the sciences as distinguished from skilled workers in the mechanical arts, skilled or creative trades.
Application of the professional exemption is a complex issue so, if you think your employer may be violating the law, please contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.