Minimum Salary for California Computer Professional Overtime Exemption becomes $98,907.70 for 2021

Employers benefit from being able to classify certain workers as exempt “computer professionals.” As an exempt worker under California wage laws, computer professionals are not required to be paid a premium for overtime hours worked. However, the worker must meet certain requirements to qualify for this California overtime law exemption.

First and foremost is the pay requirement.  As of January 1, 2021, the California  compensation threshold for exempt computer professionals will increase by 2% over the 2020 rates. As a result, in order for such workers to remain exempt from receiving overtime pay, California computer professional employees must receive a salary of at least $98,907.70 annually ($8,242.32 monthly) or an hourly rate of at least $47.48 for each hour worked.

In addition to the pay requirements, an exempt California computer professional must also meet the  duties requirements detailed below.

As of January 1, 2020, to qualify for the computer employee exemption, California computer professional employees were required to be paid a minimum hourly rate of $46.55 per hour. The minimum pay for salaried computer professionals was $96,968.33 per year.

These amounts are up 2.5% from the 2019 rates of $45.41 per hour and a minimum monthly salary of $7,883.62 per month / $94,603.25 per year due to the annual adjustment for inflation based on the California Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

The required rates for 2018 were $43.58 per hour and $7,565.84 per month / $90,790.07 per year for salaried computer professionals.

As of January 1, 2016, the minimum hourly rate for computer professionals was $41.85 per hour (up 1.4% from $41.27). The minimum pay for salaried computer professionals was $87,185.14 per year (up 1.4% from $85,981.40). In 2013, the minimum hourly rate for computer professionals was $39.90 per hour, and the minimum pay for salaried computer professionals was $83,132.93 per year.

These rates have increased significantly from 2008, when the minimum pay was $36.00 per hour for hourly workers or $75,000 per year for salaried workers. The minimum pay is tied to the California Consumer Price Index (CPI). Because the CPI has increased, a sign of economic growth, the minimum pay for computer professionals has likewise increased.

In addition to the pay requirements, a computer professional must meet the following duties requirements.

First, the worker must spend at least 50% of his time doing one or more of the following:

  • Applying systems-analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system-functional specifications
  • Designing, developing, documenting, analyzing, creating, testing, or modifying computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user- or system-design specifications
  • Documenting, testing, creating, or modifying computer programs related to the design of software or hardware for computer operating systems

Second, the worker’s job duties must require the exercise of discretion and independent judgment. Third, the worker’s job duties must be intellectual or creative in nature. Finally, the worker must be skilled and proficient in the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized information to computer systems analysis, programming, and software engineering.

The following groups of workers are specifically excluded from the computer professionals’ exemption (and must typically be paid overtime under California overtime law:

  • Technical writers
  • IT or desktop support workers
  • Workers who use computer-aided design (CAD) software and who do not work in computer systems analysis or programming
  • Trainees, including workers who have not reached the skill level and expertise necessary to work without close supervision
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