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Salaried Employees: How Many Hours Can They Work?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

If your employees are salaried, how many hours can they work? And are salaried workers ever entitled to overtime pay?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not limit the number of hours per day or per week that employees 16 years and older can be required to work, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

But beware: If salaried workers put in more than 40 hours in a week, employers are sometimes required to pay overtime, depending on the size of the business and the job responsibilities of the worker.

Exempt Workers

While hourly workers who fall under the FLSA must generally be paid for overtime, many salaried workers are exempt from the FLSA's overtime pay rules. So who's exempt?

The U.S. Department of Labor specifically says that administrative, executive, professional and outside sales employees, along with certain skilled computer professionals, are not eligible for overtime under the act. Creative and learned professionals are also exempt.

In fact, for most professions, an employee is exempt if he or she:

  1. Is paid at least $23,600 per year (or $455 per week),
  2. Is paid on a salary basis, and
  3. Performs exempt job duties.

Note, job titles don't determine exempt status. Rather, it's all about the employee's specific job duties and salary. As a rule of thumb, exempt employees tend to perform relatively high-level duties with respect to the company's overall operations (regardless of job title).

Essentially, the exemption covers most white-collar jobs that are typically paid by salary. In other words, employers are generally not required to pay overtime to salaried white-collar professionals for working more than 40 hours in a particular workweek.

Other Salaried Workers

Some salaried workers, however, don't meet the qualifications for "exempt" status. Perhaps their salary fails to make the cut, or their job duties aren't sufficiently high-level enough (i.e., not executive, professional, or administrative) to meet the FLSA's requirements to be exempt.

This means that if a worker does not fit into any of the job categories that are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act or a state law, employers may have to pay them overtime even if they are paid on a salary basis.

To make sure you're classifying your salaried employees correctly under federal and state laws, you may want to consult an experienced employment lawyer near you.

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