What’s the difference between exempt and nonexempt employees?

| Apr 23, 2021 | Employment Law |

It is an employer’s responsibility to correctly classify workers. The vast majority of workers in Hawaii fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act — FLSA — and are therefore categorized as either exempt or nonexempt employees. These classifications affect workers in a number of different ways, including whether they are subject to overtime pay or have access to certain benefits. Employers who are unsure of the difference may want to take note of a few key differences between these employee classifications.

How are they paid?

In general, employers pay nonexempt employees hourly wages while they pay exempt employees salaries. According to the FLSA, nonexempt employees must receive at least minimum wage, and should also be paid overtime when they work longer than 40 hours in a single week. Overtime is equivalent to one and half times a nonexempt employee’s regular hourly pay.

What are their job duties?

Job duties tend to be different between these employee classifications, too. For example, an exempt employee is more likely to perform duties that are high level within a business’ overall operations. These high-level duties are usually broken down into three categories:

  • Executive, including those who supervise at least two employees
  • Professional, including lawyers and teachers
  • Administrative, including human resource or payroll staff

Misclassifying an employee is often an honest mistake. Regardless of intention, this type of misclassification can still lead to serious legal repercussions. Employers who are not sure whether their workers are exempt or nonexempt employees are often well advised to speak with an attorney who is familiar with employment law in Hawaii.