California Administrative Exemption

California Administrative Exemption Law

Note: If you satisfy the requirements below for the California Administrative Exemption, then your employer does NOT have to pay you overtime or provide you with meal or rest periods.

“Administrative” employees can be exempt under California law. The IWC Wage Orders set forth the administrative exemption. For example, Wage Order 4-2001 states:

Administrative Exemption. A person employed in an administrative capacity means any employee:

(a) Whose duties and responsibilities involve either:

(i) The performance of office or non-manual work directly related to management policies or general business operations of his/her employer or his/her employer’s customers; or

(ii) The performance of functions in the administration of a school system, or educational establishment or institution, or of a department or subdivision thereof, in work directly related to the academic instruction or training carried on therein; and

(b) Who customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment; and

(c) Who regularly and directly assists a proprietor, or an employee employed in a bona fide executive or administrative capacity (as such terms are defined for purposes of this section); or

(d) Who performs under only general supervision work along specialized or technical lines requiring special training, experience, or knowledge; or

(e) Who executes under only general supervision special assignments and tasks; and

(f) Who is primarily engaged in duties that meet the test of the exemption. The activities constituting exempt work and non-exempt work shall be construed in the same manner as such terms are construed in the following regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act effective as of the date of this order: 29 C.F.R. Sections 541.201-205, 541.207-208, 541.210, and 541.215. Exempt work shall include, for example, all work that is directly and closely related to exempt work and work which is properly viewed as a means for carrying out exempt functions. The work actually performed by the employee during the course of the workweek must, first and foremost, be examined and the amount of time the employee spends on such work, together with the employer’s realistic expectations and the realistic requirements of the job, shall be considered in determining whether the employee satisfies this requirement.

(g) Such employee must also earn a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two (2) times the state minimum wage for fulltime employment. Full-time employment is defined in Labor Code Section 515(c) as 40 hours per week.

In determining which activities constitute exempt administrative work and for examples of exempt and non-exempt administrative job duties, the IWC has chosen to utilize the provisions of certain specified Federal Regulations. Those Federal Regulations interpreting the California administrative exemption can be found here.

CA Administrative Exemption Analysis

In other words, the requirements of the California administrative exemption are:

1. You have to work in a qualifying “administrative” job (one of the following two types of job):

  • Either work in an office or do non-manual labor that is directly related to management policies or general business operations of your employer or your employer’s customers; OR
  • Work in a school district administration system or school doing work that is directly related to teaching or training

2. You must have discretion and independent judgment.

  • All “exempt” administrative employees must customarily and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment in the performance of their job.

3. You must have the right type of job duties:

  • Either directly assist an owner or truly executive or administrative employee; OR
  • Do specialized or technical tasks that require special training or education and only under general supervision; OR
  • Do special assignments and tasks under only general supervision;

4. You must perform exempt duties more than 50% of the workweek:

  • All exempt administrative employees must do exempt tasks more than 50% of the workweek.

5. You must earn a salary of at least twice the minimum wage.

  • All exempt administrative employees must earn a salary of at least the minimum wage. At the current minimum wage, the yearly salary for an exempt administrative employee must be at least $33,280.
Note: If you are paid by the hour or by the day, you cannot be an exempt administrative employee.

Administrative Exemption Examples

The Federal Regulations give some examples of what would be exempt administrative employees. Click here for examples of exempt administrative employees under Federal law. But beware! These Federal law exempt administrative employees may not be considered exempt administrative employees under California law. They are only used as guidance by California courts.

You can also browse our list of cases discussing the administrative exemption. [under construction]

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