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Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that was adopted in 1938. Employees covered by FLSA are subject to an hourly wage and receipt of overtime, generally after 40 hours per week, unless the position meets specific exemption criteria outlined below. The FLSA does not provide a limit on the number of hours employees ages 16 and older may work in any workweek, however all applicable child labor laws for employees under the age of 18 are posted and followed.

Requirements apply regardless of whether an employee is full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent. Failure to comply with the FLSA regulations puts the University at substantial legal risk.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recognizes four types of exemptions under the FLSA that most commonly apply at the University of Kansas. These exemptions are referred to as the “white collar” exemptions and are categorized as:

Executive Exemption

To qualify for the executive employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated on a salary basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week;
  • The employee’s primary duty must be managing the enterprise, or managing a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the enterprise;
  • The employee must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees or their equivalent; and
  • The employee must have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or the employee’s suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or any other change of status of other employees must be given particular weight.

For more information about the exemption for executive employees, please download and review DOL Fact Sheet #17B: Exemption for Executive Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Administrative Exemption

To qualify for the administrative employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week;
  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and
  • The employee’s primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

For more information about the exemption for executive employees, please download and review DOL Fact Sheet #17C: Exemption for Administrative Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Professional Exemption

There are two types of professional exemptions: learned and creative.

Learned Professional Exemption

To qualify for the learned professional employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week;
  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment;
  • The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and
  • The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.
Creative Professional Exemption

To qualify for the creative professional employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week;
  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.

For more information about the exemption for executive employees, please download and review DOL Fact Sheet #17D: Exemption for Professional Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Computer Exemption

To qualify for the computer employee exemption, the following tests must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated either on a salary or fee basis at a rate not less than $455 per week or, if compensated on an hourly basis, at a rate not less than $27.63 an hour;
  • The employee must be employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field performing the duties described below;
  • The employee’s primary duty must consist of:
    • The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications;
    • The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;
    • The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems;
    • A combination of the aforementioned duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills.

For more information about the exemption for employees in computer-related occupations, please download and review DOL Fact Sheet #17E: Exemption for Employees in Computer-Related Occupations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Each exemption type has tests that must be met in order for a position to be exempt from the overtime requirements of FLSA. Each exemption can only be determined by an analysis of the duties themselves. Job titles do not determine exempt status. In order for an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor's regulations.

Human Resources Management is the designated authority in determining FLSA exemption status.  If you have questions regarding a position designation under FLSA visit FLSA Terms and Definitions to learn of the complexities of FLSA and how determinations are made or contact Human Resources Management at hrdept@ku.edu or 785-864-4946.

Additional Information


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