The executive exemption usually covers managerial employees. However, supervisors often do not meet the executive exemption and must be classified as nonexempt.
The Executive Exemption Test
‘Customarily and Regularly Exercises Discretion and Independent Judgment’ Defined for the Executive Exemption: For the executive exemption to apply the employee must “customarily and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment.” This phrase means the comparison and evaluation of possible courses of conduct and acting or making a decision after the various possibilities have been considered. The employee must have the authority or power to make an independent choice, free from immediate direction or supervision and with respect to matters of significance.
With respect to the executive exemption, the most frequent cause of misapplication of the phrase “discretion and independent judgment” is the failure to distinguish discretion and independent judgment from the use of independent managerial skills. “An employee who merely applies his or her memory in following prescribed procedures or determining which required procedure out of the company manual to follow, is not exercising discretion and independent judgment.”
‘Primarily Engaged In’ Defined for the Executive Exemption: For the purposes of the executive exemption, “primarily engaged in” means that more than one-half of the employee’s work time is spent engaged in exempt work. An exempt employee must spend more than 50 percent of his/her time doing:
Some examples of work that is directly and closely related to exempt work include:
Supervising Two or More Employees: The IWC Orders require as a basic condition for the executive exemption that the manager must supervise two or more employees. This may be one full-time and two half-time employees. The Labor Commissioner cautions employers that, when reviewing classifications, it has been the Labor Commissioner’s experience that a managerial employee supervising as few as two employees rarely spends as much as 50 percent of his/her time primarily engaged in managerial duties.
If an employee supervises only two or three other office employees, the main responsibilities and duties of the supervising employee are often directed toward performing office functions. Although these office functions may require more skill than those functions performed by subordinates, these functions may be routine office work or bookkeeping that is nonexempt work.
Distinguishing Duties for Executive Exemption
Examples of Exempt Duties for an Executive: Exempt duties must be directly and closely related to managerial work, such as:
Examples of Nonexempt Duties for an Executive: Examples of nonexempt duties that a supervisor might perform include:
However, some otherwise nonexempt duties could be considered exempt if they relate directly and closely to exempt work and can be viewed as a means for carrying out exempt functions.
Working Managers: “Working manager” refers to an employee with managerial responsibilities and a managerial title who is primarily engaged in nonexempt duties, such as cooking, selling on the floor, cashiering, pumping gas, keeping records, taking care of patients or acting as a desk clerk. Working managers are often misclassified as exempt. Employers should closely analyze the actual job duties of such working managers to determine if they spend more than 50 percent of their time engaged in exempt activities. Some examples of working managers that are often classified as exempt but may, in fact, be nonexempt include those in: