Are You Part of the Professional Employee Overtime Exemption?
As was discussed in the last blog entry, the new overtime pay rule only applies to the exceptions to the general rule that you get overtime. With this post I will do a deeper dive on whether you qualify as a professional employee.
A professional employee is someone who satisfies the following 3 requirements:
- Is licensed by the State of California and is primarily engaged in the practice of law, medicine, dentistry, optometry, architecture, engineering, teaching, or accounting or is primarily engaged in a learned or artistic profession;
- Customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment in the performance of their duties; and
- Earns an annual salary of $23,660 (currently but is changing to $47,476 in December of 2016).
So for someone that is licensed like an attorney or a doctor, in order for them to qualify as part of this exception they have to exercise discretion and independent judgment and make the threshold amount. Easy enough.
Where it gets a little more complicated to analyze whether you fall into this exception is to determine if you are part of a learned or artistic profession. To qualify you either have to be in a profession that requires advance knowledge or specialized education; or work in a field that is recognized field of artistic endeavor (painting, music, acting, etc.) and the result depends on the invention, imagination, or talent of the worker.
Further, if you fall into one of the two categories your profession must also be intellectually unique (meaning the job requires independent and varied thought when executing the job responsibilities).
If you satisfy these qualifications as well as the ones discussed above, then your employer may be correct in not having to pay you overtime on the basis of the professional exemption.