Exempt vs Non Exempt in California

Exempt vs Non Exempt in California – 10 Common Examples of Each

Figuring out if a position is exempt or non-exempt can be tricky in California. While federal labor laws provide some guidance, California also has its own set of rules and regulations that employers need to follow. Getting it wrong can lead to big penalties and lawsuits, so it’s important for companies to understand the difference.This article will break down exempt vs non-exempt in the state of California, including 10 common examples of each. Let’s dive in!

Overview of Exempt vs Non-Exempt

First, what exactly is the difference between exempt and non-exempt jobs?Exempt positions are not subject to overtime pay or other protections under federal and state wage and hour laws. These employees are paid a set salary that does not change based on the number of hours worked in a week. Their duties and pay levels meet certain minimum thresholds to be considered exempt.Non-exempt positions are subject to overtime and other wage protections. These employees must be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for any hours over 8 in a day or 40 in a week in California. Their duties, pay levels and other factors mean they do not meet the requirements to be exempt.Some key factors determine whether a job is exempt vs non-exempt:

  • Salary basis – Exempt employees are paid a set salary, not by the hour. Non-exempt staff are paid hourly or earn overtime.
  • Pay level – Exempt positions must meet minimum salary thresholds under California law. This threshold is higher than federal rules.
  • Job duties – Exempt roles involve executive, administrative, or professional type duties. Non-exempt jobs usually focus on more routine tasks.

Let’s look at 10 common examples of exempt vs non-exempt jobs in California to better understand how it works.

10 Common Exempt Job Examples

Here are 10 positions that often meet the requirements to be classified as exempt under California wage and hour laws:

1. Executives

Executive roles like CEOs, presidents, vice presidents, and directors are almost always exempt. Their primary duty is managing a department or business unit and directing the work of 2+ full-time employees. They have authority over hiring, firing and promotions. High-level executives earn well above the California salary thresholds for exemption.

2. Administrators

Many administrative jobs are exempt. This includes positions like school principals, compliance officers, treasurers, and high-level analysts. Their primary duty is office or non-manual work related to business operations and management. They regularly use discretion and independent judgment on significant matters. Admins are not just doing routine clerical work.

3. Professional Employees

Jobs requiring advanced knowledge, training or education are often exempt. This includes lawyers, doctors, accountants, engineers, architects and various other professional roles. The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning. Professionals do work requiring invention, imagination or talent.

4. Computer Professionals

Under California law, certain computer professionals can qualify as exempt. This includes programmers, software engineers, systems analysts and other IT roles. They must be paid at least $49.77 per hour or about $103,650 per year. Duties involve intellectual/creative work like systems analysis, design/documentation, or modifying software.

5. Outside Salespersons

Those working in outside sales are exempt in most cases. Their primary duty must be making sales away from the employer’s place of business. They sell items like vehicles, pharmaceuticals, electronics, or advertising. Outside salespeople typically earn a commission on their sales instead of an hourly wage.

6. Teachers

Certified teachers in public and private schools are exempt. Special rules apply for teachers in higher education. Tutors, teacher’s aides and instructors are non-exempt, but teachers responsible for curriculum and classroom instruction are usually exempt.

7. Academic Administrators

Those working in academic administration like deans, headmasters, and provosts are often exempt. They must have primary duties related to academic instruction or training. Mere business operations roles at schools do not qualify. Academic admins must also use independent judgment and discretion.

8. Physicians

Doctors employed by healthcare companies are nearly always exempt. Their work involves advanced medical knowledge and consistent exercise of discretion/judgment. Salaried physicians and surgeons meet the duties and pay requirements to be exempt.

9. Lawyers

Attorneys employed by companies, law firms, government agencies and other organizations are exempt in most cases. They perform work requiring advanced legal knowledge like preparing cases, giving legal advice, and researching the law. California has special rules for lawyers that can affect exemption.

10. Dentists

Like physicians and lawyers, dentists are almost always exempt. They use advanced dental knowledge, training, and skills. Dentists consistently exercise discretion and judgment in their clinical work and interactions with patients. Their high pay levels also help them meet the salary basis test.

10 Common Non-Exempt Job Examples

On the other hand, here are 10 positions that are often classified as non-exempt under California wage and hour laws:

1. Retail Employees

Most retail workers are non-exempt. This includes sales associates, cashiers, stockers, and customer service staff. Their duties do not involve true outside sales or management responsibilities. Retail employees typically earn hourly wages and overtime for extra hours.

2. Restaurant Staff

Restaurant jobs like servers, cooks, dishwashers, and hosts are usually non-exempt. Their work does not require advanced degrees or management duties. Tipped staff can earn a lower minimum wage under California rules. But overtime must still be paid for extra hours.

3. Manual Laborers

Positions involving extensive physical work are almost always non-exempt. This includes construction workers, landscapers, cleaning staff, maintenance workers, and factory employees. They are paid hourly and earn overtime under California law.

4. Clerical Staff

Office roles like secretaries, administrative assistants, bookkeepers, and other clerical staff are non-exempt. Their duties involve routine tasks like data entry, filing, typing, and answering phones. Advanced degrees and management duties are not required.

5. Customer Service

Customer service representatives, whether working in call centers, retail, or other industries, are typically non-exempt. Their primary duties do not involve exempt-level work. Customer service roles focus on providing support and information to customers.

6. Assistants

Those working as executive, administrative, or personal assistants are usually non-exempt. Assistants provide routine clerical, secretarial, or other lower-level support to managers and executives. They do not supervise employees or run business units.

7. Paralegals

Paralegals support lawyers with research, documents, and cases. But they are not exempt like attorneys and their duties are more routine. Paralegals do not provide legal services directly to clients or set legal strategy.

8. Cooks

Commercial cooks working in restaurants, cafeterias, hotels and other food service operations are non-exempt. They do not have management duties. Cooks prepare food items following standardized recipes and kitchen procedures.

9. Drivers

Delivery drivers, chauffeurs, couriers, and truck drivers are typically non-exempt. They may load vehicles and perform other manual tasks. Driving itself is not an exempt duty, so overtime pay is required under California law.

10. Childcare Workers

Childcare workers like nannies, daycare staff, and preschool teachers are usually non-exempt. They do not supervise other employees or manage curriculum the way exempt teachers do. Routine childcare duties do not meet the requirements for exemption.

Key Takeaways

  • Exempt employees in California do not earn overtime, while non-exempt staff do. Misclassifying workers can lead to lawsuits.
  • Factors like pay, duties, discretion/judgment help determine if a job is exempt or not.
  • Examples like executives, admins, and professionals are often exempt. Retail, restaurant, assistants are usually non-exempt.
  • When in doubt, employers should consult with HR and legal counsel to ensure proper classification under California law.

Determining exempt vs non-exempt status can be tricky, but this overview and examples help provide some clarity. Both employers and employees should understand these rules in California to ensure wage and hour compliance. Let me know if you have any other questions!