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HR Generalist (Department of One)

I have accepted a position as an HR Generalist in a department of one. I think the company has miss-classified the position as non-exempt. I believe it is exempt.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets guidelines for employee compensation. Under the FLSA, employees are classified as either non-exempt or exempt. Non-exempt means that an employee is subject to the overtime and minimum wage requirements prescribed by the FLSA. Conversely, exempt employees are excluded from such provisions.

To be exempt, an employee must pass all three “tests”, salary level, salary basis, and duties, as outlined by the FLSA.

The salary level test: Employees who are paid less than $455 per week (FYI: the DOL has proposed to increase this to $970 per week in 2016) are non-exempt.

The salary basis test: An exempt employee must receive a regular, predetermined amount of compensation each pay period on a weekly, or less frequent, basis. Aside from a few exceptions, an employee must receive the full salary for any workweek during which the employee performs any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked.

The duties test: An employee who meets the salary level and salary basis tests is exempt only if he/she also performs exempt job duties. The actual tasks of the job are to be evaluated, not the job title. There are three typical categories of exempt job duties titled executive, professional, and administrative.

Job duties are exempt “executive” job duties if the employee regularly supervises two or more other employees, has management as the primary duty of the position, and has some genuine input into the job status of other employees (such as hiring, firing, promotions, or assignments).

“Professionally” exempt work is predominantly intellectual, requires specialized education, and involves the exercise of discretion and judgment. Advanced degrees are the most common measure of this but are not absolutely necessary if an employee has attained a similar level of advanced education through other means and performs essentially the same kind of work as similar employees who do have advanced degrees.

“Administratively” exempt employees provide support to the operational or production employees and have a major impact on the overall business. An administratively exempt employee has the authority to create or interpret company policies, has responsibilities that directly relate to the overall business operation, has the decision making ability to make significant financial impacts, and has the authority to deviate from company policy without prior approval.
An employee who doesn’t pass all three tests is considered non-exempt under the FLSA.

Again, classification is based mainly on job duties not the job title. Many HR Generalists are non-exempt. However, those with more independent managerial roles may meet the criteria for exemption.

As the primary HR professional, consider your job duties. If you truly believe you should be exempt then discuss your case with your boss. This may be a good opportunity for you to show your knowledge in your field. Just remember, there is nothing unprofessional about being non-exempt (though this is still a common perception). In fact, being non-exempt ensures you’ll be paid for each and every hour of work you put in, which may be significant being the only HR professional on board. HTH!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 at 7:28 pm and is filed under
Compensation, Labor Laws.
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