Employees in California are classified as either exempt or nonexempt. Exempt employees aren't entitled to overtime pay or mandatory breaks, but must be paid at least twice the state's minimum wage. Part-time employees may be classified as exempt, but still must meet the minimum salary requirements for a full-time exempt employee.
Exempt Versus Nonexempt
Nonexempt employees in California usually are paid on an hourly basis and are afforded certain break and overtime privileges. Employers must offer a 30 minute meal break to nonexempt employees who work shifts more than six hours, along with periodic 10 minute paid rest breaks. If the employee works more than 10 hours in one shift, she must be offered a second 30 minute meal break. Nonexempt employees also must be paid time-and-a-half for any hours worked in excess of eight per day or 40 per week.
Requirements to be Exempt
Certain employees may be exempt from California's overtime and break rules. To be exempt, an employee must be paid a salary and must have independent judgement in her job duties Only executive, administrative, professional, artists salespersons and computer professionals may be exempt in California. Exempt employees amust be paid a salary that's equal to more than twice the state minimum wage. For 2015, that's a minimum salary of $37,444 annually. Some professionals, like computer software professionals and physicians, must be paid even more.
Seasonal and Part-Time Exempt Employees
Technically, part-time employees can be exempt. However, California's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement doesn't recognize the concept of a part-time exempt employee. Exempt employees are paid to get a job done rather than paid for the number of hours that they clock. Because of this, part-time exempt employees must still be paid more than the minimum salary of $37,444 per year.
A temporary or seasonal employee may be exempt, however, as long as her weekly salary meets or exceeds the California minimum requirements.
Docking Exempt Employee Pay
One of California's requirements for exempt employees is that they be paid a consistent salary. This means that an employer can't dock an employees pay for taking half a day off or leaving a few hours early due to sickness. However, employers are allowed to require employees to use accrued paid sick leave or paid time off to cover partial day absences. Even if the employee exhausts her paid or sick leave, her pay can't be docked for a partial day absence.