Computer Professionals – Calculating the Exemption

This one is going to be short and sweet. Well, maybe not sweet, but certainly short. First, some computer employees, like Software Engineers, for example, may qualify for the Professional Exemption. To put some definition around when they do, the Regs give us this general rule:

(b) The section 13(a)(1) exemption applies to any computer employee compensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than . . . (remember, I‘m taking out the Salary Level Test because it is about to change). In addition, under either section 13(a)(1) or section 13(a)(17) of the Act, the exemptions apply only to computer employees whose primary duty consists of:

(1) The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications;

(2) The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;

(3) The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or

(4) A combination of the aforementioned duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills.

29 CFR §541.400.

The first thing you need to know is this. These are people who write code, design systems, or do systems analysis at very high levels. This is not your help desk guy. Your help desk guy is not exempt, and if you are paying him that way, you need to fix that. The second thing you need to know is this exemption only applies to these very highly skilled and trained computer professionals, not to other skilled people who do other work that is dependent on computers.  29 CFR §541.401.

And that, is that