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FLSA 101: overtime exemptions guide


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments. Some employees are exempt from the overtime pay provisions or both the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions. 

Do you know which of your employees are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime pay requirement?

For many employers and HR professionals. the challenge they face when it comes to compliance with the FLSA is typically employee job classification.

Complying with wage and hour laws can be complicated and overwhelming—but getting it wrong can expose your organization to tremendous legal and financial risk. A single-plaintiff FLSA suit alone can cost six figures (Philips, 2021).

We’ve created this helpful guide that will look at the primary overtime exemption categories and provide a brief summary of what each entails. 

flsa exemptions guidebook cover

Employee job classification

The Act sets parameters on what jobs are eligible for overtime and which are not. The main difference in status between exempt and non-exempt employees is their eligibility for overtime. So it’s important to understand that it is the employee’s job function that is classified. Classification is not specific to a particular employee. 

Exempt employees

The FLSA exempts broad categories of white-collar jobs from minimum wage and overtime requirements if they meet certain tests regarding job duties and responsibilities and are paid a certain minimum salary. These categories of employees are commonly known as “exempt” employees and include executive, administrative, and professional employees. The FLSA also provides exemptions for outside sales personnel, certain specialized computer personnel, certain highly compensated employees, certain retail sales employees, and employees covered by the Motor Carrier Act (MCA).

Nonexempt employees

Nonexempt employees are those who are covered by the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay provisions.


BLR’s HR solutions take the guesswork out of employee classification. Streamline your organization’s HR and compliance needs by using our industry-leading solutions—designed specifically for human resources professionals and prepared by attorneys and leading industry experts.