The Labor Laws on Exempt Employees Who are Required to Work Over 40 Hours a Week

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An employer is not required to pay exempt employees for working over 40 hours per week. Exempt employees are salaried, not hourly workers, and generally perform executive or administrative duties. Under the law, employers can compensate exempt employees under certain circumstances without losing the exemption. Employers can set the "normal work week" for an exempt employee, however, at something in excess of 40 hours per week if they so desire.


Employers are not required to pay exempt employees for working more than 40 hours per week, but Section 541.604 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows an employer to pay an exempt employee over and above his salary for overtime and still keep the exemption as long as the employee is paid a minimum of $455.00 each week. This figure cannot be reduced if the employee takes time off from work during the week.


Under Section 541.604, the employer can compensate the exempt employee with additional time-off, with a lump sum in cash, or payment can be time and a half or straight time pay for all hours that are worked "beyond the normal work week" as set forth by the employer, not the FLSA. Thus, the threshold for overtime for an exempt employee could be 50 hours as a normal week, and not 40, for example.

Read More: Overtime Guidelines by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on Exempt vs. Non-Exempt


An exempt employee is one who is paid weekly, at least $250.00, and is classified as either an executive, professional, administrative worker or an outside sales person. Generally speaking, anyone who performs physical or manual labor cannot be an exempt employee under the law. An exempt employee is a salaried employee, as opposed to an hourly worker.