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A Better Partnership


Nov 2006
November 30, 2006

DOL Rules That IT Support Personnel Not Exempt From Overtime

With the rise in importance of computers and technology in business has come a dramatic increase in the employment of information technology support specialists. Many employers have classified these employees as exempt, salaried employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") because of the highly technical skills they utilize. As a recent Opinion Letter makes clear, however, such employees do not normally qualify for exempt status from overtime or the minimum wage under either the "administrative" or "computer professional" exemptions to the FLSA.

The Opinion Letter was written by the Administrator of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division in response to an employer's inquiry about a new position titled IT Support Specialist. The IT Support Specialists would be responsible for the diagnosis of computer-related problems brought to them by other employees of the company. In finding that such position is not exempt from the overtime or minimum wage requirements of the FLSA, the Labor Department stated that the job of IT Support Specialist does not require the discretion and independent judgment necessary to qualify for the administrative exemption and lacks the development and analytical skills required for the computer professionals exemption.

In so finding, the Labor Department stated "the fact that work may be unusually complex or highly specialized along technical lines, or that significant consequences or losses may result from improper performance of an employee's duties, do not automatically qualify the work as being significant to the management or general business operations of an employer . . . indeed, a job may even be viewed by an employer as 'indispensable' and still not meet the requirement that its primary duty must be 'directly related to the management or general business operations.'"

This Opinion Letter helps clarify any confusion as to the exempt status of IT Support personnel and gives employers an opportunity to review and re-evaluate how it pays its IT employees. While some IT employees like managers and programmers may still be considered exempt, regular help-desk support personnel will not. All employers should review the status of their IT Support Personnel to make sure they are properly classified.

If you have any questions, please contact me or anyone in WN&J's Labor and Employment Practice Group.


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