Overtime Pay Laws for Administrative Staff

Often employers misclassify administrative employees such as executive assistants, secretaries, and administrative assistants as exempt from the overtime pay laws under the administrative exemption. However, employers fail to realize that most ordinary administrative duties are not significant enough to rise to the level required by the administrative exemption. Just because an employee does administrative work does not mean that they are “administratively exempt” under overtime rules.

In order for an administrative employee to be exempt under the Administrative Exemption:

  • The employee must be paid on a salary or fee basis at a rate no less than $455* ($684 as of 1/1/20) per week;
  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work related directly to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and
  • The employee’s primary duty must include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

To qualify for the exemption, an employee’s duties must be related directly to assisting with the running of the business. This type of work would include the following:

  • accounting
  • personnel management
  • advertising and marketing
  • human resources research
  • quality control
  • labor relations
  • other similar activities

Additionally, the employee’s duty must include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment. Commonly, this means the employee has the authority to make independent choices, free from immediate direction or supervision. Some examples would be:

  • the employee performs work that substantially affects the business operations
  • the employee has the authority to make or implement management policies
  • the employee can deviate from established policies without prior approval.
  • the employee has the authority to commit the employer in matters with significant financial impact

The level of importance or consequence of the work will determine whether it is a matter of significance.

* The Department of Labor under the Obama Administration increased this salary amount to $913 per week effective 12/1/2016; however, this increase was blocked by a court ruling.  Instead, the Trump Administration only increased the salary amount to $684 per week effective 1/1/2020. Please see this page for the latest updates.

Have You Been Misclassified?

If you are an administrative employee and believe you may have been misclassified as exempt and deprived of overtime pay that is rightfully yours, please Contact us for a free and confidential review of your circumstances.