Fair Labor Standards Act Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?
The FLSA is a federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards for employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.
2. What do the terms “exempt” and “non-exempt” mean?
The status of “exempt” and “non-exempt” under FLSA determines whether an employee earns overtime or compensatory time for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per work week. Employees who are exempt from the requirements of this law do not earn overtime and are paid a monthly salary at Texas A&M University regardless of the number of hours worked. Employees who are non-exempt from the requirements of FLSA are paid on an hourly basis, on a biweekly pay schedule at Texas A&M University, and are eligible for overtime pay or compensatory time for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
3. How is exemption determined?
Under the regulations, there are two sets of tests that must be passed to be considered exempt from FLSA. The first is a duties test to determine the whether a position’s duties primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations. The second is a salary test. Currently that salary test is a minimum threshold of $23,660 per year.
4. Are there exceptions to the salary threshold for exemption?
Yes. Certain professional positions, such as teachers, doctors, veterinarians and lawyers, do not have to meet the salary threshold to be considered exempt. This teaching exemption applies to faculty titles and others such as Graduate Assistant-Teaching. Graduate Assistants-Research are also in a special category due to being engaged in research in the course of obtaining an advanced degree under the supervision of a faculty member.
5. Do the regulations allow for a different salary threshold for Postdoctoral Research Associates or other titles related to conducting research in a higher education setting?
No. Research positions must meet the job duties tests and salary threshold to be exempt.
6. Who applies the tests to determine exemption status for titles/positions at Texas A&M University?
Human Resources Classification and Compensation has historically been responsible for reviewing position classifications to determine exemption status at the title or position level, as well as monitoring compliance with the minimum salary threshold and position description content. With the implementation of new System-wide Pay Plan and a single title listing used by all Texas A&M System Members, the process now involves collaboration with other System HR offices, the Pay Plan Administration committee and final decisions by the Pay Plan Administrator for consistency.
7. How is the pay different for non-exempt employees?
Non-exempt employees are paid on a biweekly basis (every other Friday), and must be paid for all hours worked. The Texas A&M University System’s work week is Monday through Sunday. Overtime pay and compensatory time are based on the hours worked in the individual week, not the entire biweekly pay period. Payroll deductions are split between bi-weekly checks as shown in the example below.
8. Why is the biweekly check less than half of the monthly check?
For non-exempt employees there are 26 pay periods, rather than 24 pay periods, in a year. Although a biweekly check may be less than half the amount of a monthly check, there will be two times in a year that a non-exempt employee is paid three times in a single month.
9. Where can I find the pay dates for non-exempt employees?
Payroll has a biweekly pay schedule which indicates pay date, dates that timesheets must be submitted, and the relevant dates of the pay period.
10. What are the options available for reclassifying a non-exempt employee to an exempt title?
Supervisors may initiate reclassifications through the Workday system if the position duties justify a title change. Reclassification actions submitted to Human Resources through the Workday system must demonstrate that the duties being performed in the position are significantly changed or are a better match to the proposed title. An analyst will be assigned to each reclassification request received to study how duties may have changed over time, review the employee’s qualifications and make determinations as to the most appropriate title.
11. I’m a part-time employee. Why am I considered non-exempt if I am in an exempt title and my full-time effort (FTE) salary is above the minimum salary threshold?
The Department of Labor has been firm in their interpretation that FLSA exemption is affected by actual pay, rather than Full Time Effort pay. As such, part-time employees who might be exempt when working full-time can become non-exempt due to part-time actual pay putting them below the minimum salary threshold. For example, an employee in an exempt title paid $40,000 FTE would still be non-exempt if working at 50% effort (at $20,000 actual pay, which is below the current $23,660 minimum salary threshold).

For more information, please contact Classification and Compensation by email at payplan@tamu.edu or by phone at (979) 845-4170.