Non-Exempt Employee Classification

By Robin Devereaux
The company's human resource department makes sure each employee understands their employee classification
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Every employee must have either an exempt or non-exempt classification status. A company's human resources department must ensure that employees understand their classification, rights and benefits under their designated status. Many employers provide a detailed explanation in writing upon hire and have each employee sign a document that states they understand the designation. An exempt employee differs in several ways from a non-exempt employee. Generally, an employee paid an hourly wage, rather than a salary, is qualifies as non-exempt.

Fair Labor Standards Act

According to the Department of Labor's Fair Labor Standards Act, a non-exempt employee must make at least the current minimum wage per hour. These employees are also entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over a forty-hour workweek. The over time pay must be at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay. According to Department of Labor recommends, you should classify a position as exempt or non-exempt based on the duties of each position.

What Does Non-Exempt Mean

When employers designate an employee as "non-exempt,” it means the individual falls under the guidelines of the FLSA. An employee who is exempt does not fall under these guidelines, and therefore is not subject to the receipt of time and one-half pay when working more than a forty-hour workweek. Employees who are exempt often receive other benefits, such as higher pay per hour, health and other insurances as an incentive. Employers often classify employees in administrative or management roles as exempt.


The United States enacted the Fair Labor Standards in 1938 under the Roosevelt Administration. Senator Hugo Black of Alabama drafted the law to “put a ceiling over hours and a floor under wages” by establishing a minimum wage per hour and a forty-hour workweek. Lawmakers designed the FLSA to improve working conditions for Americans and to ameliorate child labor.

Violation of FSLA

If your employer is in violation of the FSLA, an employee can make a complaint to the Department of Labor and is protected from employer retaliation under the Whistle Blower's Act. Employers may violate FSLA by refusing to pay for overtime hours worked, or in many cases, changes an employee's designation from non-exempt to exempt by informing the employee they are now "salaried" rather than "hourly" without offering increases in pay or benefits. If you feel your employer is taking advantage of you, report this FSLA violation as soon as possible. The burden of proof rests on the employer, not the employee, under the FSLA.

About the Author

Robin Devereaux has been writing professionally for more than 25 years. She has written for "The Sowell Review, "Health and Healing Magazine" and has been a contributor to several local Eastern Michigan publications. Robin is a graduate of the Central Michigan University Arts Program.