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Photo of Michelle Cohen Levy

The legal difference between exempt and non-exempt workers

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2021 | Wage & Hour Laws |

Many workers are subjected to unfair employment practices without realizing it. One way is through hourly employment. Employers may pay employees like salary workers when they should be paid hourly.

What does that mean? Generally, workers are paid in one of two ways:

  • Annual Salary (exempt)
  • An hourly wage (non-exempt)

Why the difference matters

If you are an hourly worker, you should be paid for all the time you put into your job. This means that if you work more than 40 hours in a workweek, you should be paid overtime for the work you do past those 40 hours.

Salary workers are not subject to these rules. Salary workers are paid despite how much time they spend on the job. That means a 20-hour week and a 60-hour week are paid the same. Employers may advertise salary jobs with an hourly equivalent rate, but that doesn’t mean an employee will be paid for all the time they put into a job. This is attractive for employers who want to work their employees over 40 hours a week.

Nefarious practices

Some employees will have you clock in with 40 hours a week regardless of how much you work. For hourly workers, this is an unfair practice that may result in less pay for more on-the-job effort. If an employer hires you as an hourly worker, you should be paid justly for your work. This means getting overtime pay when working more than 40 hours in a workweek.

The difference

Before considering action, it is wise to figure out if you are a salary worker or an hourly worker. If you are being paid as an hourly worker but are overworked and not paid overtime, laws exist to ensure you are justly compensated. Everyone deserves to be paid what they are worth.