What is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?
The FLSA is a federal law that was passed in 1938 intended to protect workers and insure they were fairly compensated for the time that they worked. The law created a minimum wage and required employers to pay workers overtime pay at 1.5 times the regular rate of pay if they worked more than 40 hours in a work week. In the case of a state agency such as SHSU, compensatory time (or comp time) may be substituted by the employer for overtime. The requirement to compensate employees for overtime is mandatory and cannot be waived, even if the employee wishes to volunteer his or her time. Congress intended the law to provide employees with wage and hour protections, so coverage under the law is “broadly construed.”
Is anyone Exempt from the FLSA?
The FLSA applies to all employees except those expressly identified as “Exempt” under the law. The FLSA exempts from minimum wage and overtime requirements employees who are bona fide executive, administrative, or professional employees; that is, so-called “white collar” employees. See 29 U.S.C. 213(a)(1); 29 CFR Part 541. Employees who do not fall into these categories are considered “Non-exempt.”
Job titles do not determine who is exempt; job duties do. Salary by itself does not determine who is exempt. Exemption status is based on the position, not on the individual in the position. An employee’s primary job duties and earnings must meet all of the requirements as spelled out in the regulation to be considered exempt.
What are some examples of Exempt employees?
Some examples of Exempt employees at the university might be
- Learned professionals (lawyers, doctors, engineers, researchers)
- Creative professionals (musicians, artists, writers)
- Academic instructors/faculty
- Computer programmers and analysts
Will my salary change if I am reclassified as non-exempt?
No, your salary will not change due to the implementation of the new rule.
How will this impact me if I am converted from Exempt to Non-exempt?
- You will need to keep track of the total hours you work, fill out a time sheet that shows those hours worked, and submit it each pay period.
- You will be paid overtime or provided compensatory time for any hours worked in excess of the 40-hour work week.
How do I fill out a time sheet?
In August 2016, the Payroll Office will offer trainings on how to complete a time sheet.
Will the status of non-exempt employees who are already covered by the FLSA change?
Employees including hourly workers, blue collar workers, and some white collar workers who do not fall within rules governing the exempt classifications will not be affected by the new Overtime Rule because these workers are already entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week, regardless of the amount of money they make. The changes to the Overtime Rule will not affect that.
If I work more than 40 hours in a work week, who decides if I get paid with overtime pay vs. compensatory time?
Your supervisor will decide, but should give notice to the employee before the performance of the work that compensatory time off will be given in lieu of overtime pay.
Will changing to non-exempt have any effect on my vacation accrual?
No, the new status will not affect vacation accrual.
When does the change become effective?
In order to synchronize the changes with the budget cycle, Sam Houston State University will make the change effective 9/1/2016.
How will travel time be handled for non-exempt employees?
From Finance & Operations Human Resources Policy ER-3, “Work Schedules & Employee Compensation,” para. 16:
- Travel Time – Nonexempt employees are entitled to be paid while traveling to other locations to conduct University business, minus regular commute time. Purposes for such travel include, among others, attending conferences and participating in professional meetings in other cities away from the employee’s normal worksite location. Travel time with an overnight stay is handled differently than travel time that occurs in the same day, in accordance with federal law.
- Travel Time with an Overnight Stay -- Travel that keeps a nonexempt employee away from home overnight is counted as hours worked if the employee travels during normal duty hours or corresponding hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Travel time that occurs outside of normal duty hours will not be considered working time, unless actual work is being performed during that time.
- Example #1: An employee who normally works Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. travels on University business between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday on a trip that includes an overnight stay. The travel that occurs between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. is considered working time.
- Example #2: An employee who normally works Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. travels on University business between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday on a trip that includes an overnight stay. The travel that occurs between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. is considered working time and the travel time between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. is considered non-working time if the employee is traveling as a passenger. If the employee is driving, all time is considered working time.
- Example #3: An employee who normally works Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. has travel time that occurs after 5:00 p.m. on a Saturday (which would not typically be considered working time), but during that travel the employee is using a laptop computer to complete a required work-related project or respond to work-related emails.
The travel that occurs after 5:00 p.m. is considered working time, but only because the employee was actually performing work.
Note that in all examples above, a supervisor may adjust the nonexempt employee’s schedule for the remainder of the workweek to avoid the accrual of overtime or compensatory time.
- Travel Time Without an Overnight Stay -- Travel performed both during and outside normal duty hours in association with a one-day assignment in another city that does not require the nonexempt employee to stay overnight is counted as hours worked. Example: An employee who departs on a trip to another city for a one-day assignment at 7:00 a.m. and arrives back from that trip at 6:00 p.m. will be paid for all hours of travel and work. Time that will not be considered working time in this scenario would be regular commute time, appropriate time for lunch, and other time not considered to be work-related (sightseeing, shopping for personal items, etc.).
Travel time issues with nonexempt employees should be discussed in advance.
Where can I find out more?
You can find more information about the standards from the Department of Labor as it relates to Higher Education here:
You can find out more about SHSU’s policy on work schedules and employee compensation here: