Update Your Job Descriptions for New Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Overtime Rules

Executive Summary

  • New Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime rules raise the salary threshold for exemption almost threefold, to $455 per week
  • FLSA rules say job title is insufficient to establish exemption
  • Detailed, accurate job descriptions are required to support overtime pay exemption under FLSA guidelines, says Department of Labor (DOL)

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently revised the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations concerning overtime pay. The new rules, which go into effect on August 23, 2004, regulate the exempt or nonexempt status of employees by redefining the “white collar” exemptions for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and computer employees. The regulations also raise the salary threshold for exemption almost threefold, to $455 per week.

A job title alone is insufficient to establish the FLSA exempt status of an employee. Rather, says the DOL, “The exempt or nonexempt status of any particular employee must be determined on the basis of whether the employee’s salary and duties meet the requirements of the regulations.”

For FLSA compliance your job description should clearly and simply state:

  • Who does the work (including the qualifications, education, and job skills required)
  • What the work entails
  • Where the work is performed
  • When the work is done (hours, how often, or what times of year)
  • Why the person does the work (why the job is essential to the company)
  • How the job is accomplished

For the purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is appropriate and necessary to list the essential and nonessential functions of the job in case someone asks for a job accommodation for a covered disability.

If your company has not updated its job descriptions in over a year, it is possible that the actual work performed by employees under your current job titles has changed — especially if your company has undergone reorganizations. Therefore, you may want to confer with managers, supervisors, and the employees themselves when updating your job descriptions.

Once you have job descriptions that you believe accurately reflect the jobs performed, have your legal advisor review them. Make certain that you leave room for the signature or initial of someone who has reviewed each description. Have the person date the review so that you can prove your job descriptions are up to date so that you can determine when a new review is necessary.