Q: Is our ministry employee exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as a "computer tech" employee?

A: Hourly rate or salary level, salary basis, and job duties will be taken into consideration to decide if the computer-related occupations exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act applies.

To qualify for a computer employee exemption, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division says the following tests must be met.

Hourly Wage or Salary Level.* Beginning December 1, 2016, your skilled computer worker must earn a weekly salary of at least $455 or an hourly wage of at least $27.63 to qualify for the exemption. Compensation may be paid biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly. Check with your state's labor office to see if your state has rules that govern pay frequency.

*Note: A change to this salary level is currently on hold due to a court injunction. If the change is upheld by the court, the salary level will increase to $913 per week ($47,476 for a full-year worker). The change would also include an automatic increase to the salary threshold every three years to maintain the minimum salary level at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest wage census region.

Because the consequences of misapplying the computer professional exemption can be costly, ministries are encouraged to seek a local attorney’s assistance when considering these questions and making a final determination.

Salary Basis. Your skilled computer employee can earn either a salary or an hourly wage that fits the criteria described above. If salaried, he or she must receive a predetermined amount for any week in which work is performed, regardless of the quality or quantity of the work.

Job Duties. To qualify for an exemption in computer-related occupations, your employee must:

  • Be employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or similarly skilled worker in the computer field.
  • Perform duties consisting of application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system functional specifications.
  • Design, develop, document, analyze, create, test, or modify computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on, and related to, user or system design specifications.

Your employee may also qualify by performing a combination of the duties described above that require the same skill level.

The computer employee exemption does not include employees engaged in the manufacture or repair of computer hardware and related equipment. It also does not include employees whose work is highly dependent upon, or facilitated by, computers or software programs.

All of these criteria must be met for the computer-related occupations exemption to apply to an employee. Because the consequences of misapplying the exemption for skilled workers in the computer field can be costly, ministries are encouraged to seek a local attorney’s assistance when considering these questions and making a final determination.

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*Important information: Brotherhood Mutual is pleased to provide Legal Assist as a complimentary resource. The services we offer through Legal Assist are intended to provide general legal information to our current and prospective policyholders.

The information we provide is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. Accordingly, no attorney/client relationship is created through this process, and no legal advice will be provided. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.