Labor Laws: Exempt Vs. Non Exempt

By Julie Segraves
Construction worker taking a break.
laborer resting image by Joy Fera from

Employers are subject to the wage and hour regulations set out in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA covers non-exempt employees, i.e., those that are not salaried. In certain circumstances, it also covers exempt employees.

Minimum Wage

All employees, both exempt and non-exempt, must be paid at least minimum wage in accordance with FLSA. There are no exceptions to this law.

Work Week

For both exempt and non-exempt employees, a work week is 40 hours. A work week can be less than 40 hours or can be more than 40 hours. Regardless of the number of hours in a work week, non-exempt employees must be paid overtime after 40 hours. Exempt employees are not covered by this restriction.


Overtime must be paid to non-exempt employees at time plus one-half the regular rate of pay. For exempt employees, if compensatory time is allowed, it must be paid at time and one half. If an exempt employee is in the computer field, under certain circumstances, he is considered non-exempt for the purposes of overtime and must be paid in wages rather than compensatory time.

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