How to Know if You're Exempt From Overtime Pay

In some cases, an employer might make an honest mistake. For example, the employer might have never hired an employee for your position before and may have never sought legal counsel. When this occurs, you may find that you have worked overtime while your employer believes that you are actually exempt. Because these exemption rules can be complicated, it's important to speak with an attorney to determine whether you are owed overtime pay.

Exemptions for Overtime

If you are a salaried employee who works within a particular category such as an executive, administrator, or certain professional duties, you will be exempt from overtime rules. Depending on the state in which you reside, you may need to be paid above a designated amount as your salary to be exempt from overtime. 

Executives and Administrators

Executives are individuals who direct work and have the ability to hire and fire employees. For example, you may have an executive who oversees a department of your business. Typically, you will need to direct at least two full-time employees to be considered exempt. You may argue that you are treated as an executive but do not really have executive functions, however.

An administrator must have responsibilities that are directly related to the general business operations of the employer or the employer's customers. Or, they must have been related to the management. However, you might want to speak with an attorney if you dispute the role that you play in your company.


Several types of professionals can be considered exempt from overtime rules. This includes employees who have roles that primarily involve working with computers and employees who require an advanced education to be able to do their jobs. A computer employee could be an individual who is a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, or software engineer. 


If your primary responsibility is to engage in sales outside the company, you may be exempt from overtime laws. You may be responsible for obtaining orders or contracts for services as an example.

Failure to Track

If you are not exempt from overtime, your employer will need to track the number of hours that you work to make sure that you are compensated appropriately. If you are not sure if you should receive compensation for your overtime, make sure to speak with an employment attorney as soon as possible. In addition to being entitled compensation for back pay, you may also be entitled to liquidated damages.