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Caveat: Job Titles Do Not Make Employees Exempt


The DOL cautions against assuming that any particular job title or position will automatically be considered "exempt". The determination depends upon the facts behind the work relationship, not on what the employer and the employee may call it. However, the regulations do make clear that employees such as company and department heads, personnel directors, executive assistants, financial experts, physicians, and company attorneys are generally considered exempt, while employees such as clerks, errand runners, secretaries, bookkeepers, inspectors, and on-the-job trainees* are non-exempt. In general, anyone performing "line duties" as the primary part of their job will be considered non-exempt and thus entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week.

* "On-the-job trainees" refers to new employees or current employees in new positions within a company who undergo specific job-related training while earning whatever pay applies to new employees in such positions. In limited circumstances, however, certain trainees may be exempt from the FLSA - for more information, see the topic on "Student Interns - Trainees" in this book.




It is clear that understanding which employees are exempt and which are non-exempt requires much more than just looking at a title and a salary. Several specific legal tests are involved. Companies should do periodic reviews of their exempt and non-exempt positions to ensure that changes in job duties or pay practices have not created changes in exempt/non-exempt status as well.


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