Sloppy Job Titles and Compliance With the FLSA

Job Analysis Very few large employers have a job title/job code system that’s 100% accurate and smaller organizations may not be aware of the need for this under the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the law that covers how exempt and non-exempt employees should be treated by the organization for overtime and other employment conditions. Accurate job titling means that there’s a suitable job code (with a job description) for every type of position, and every person/position is properly titled. Mis-titling can lead to mis-classification under the FLSA, and confusion when trying to analyze jobs.

Effective job analysis is the key to an effective and defensible FLSA review. Under the FLSA, positions, not jobs, must be classified accurately. A position represents a single “box” on the organization chart normally filled by a single incumbent, while a job refers to a common set of duties performed by one or more incumbents in the organization. Job analysis refers to the process of studying a job to identify “content”, i.e. duties and responsibilities of a job.

In an FLSA classification review, you are seeking specific information about jobs that relate to the various exemption tests. For example, for any exemption test, you must identify the “primary duty” of the job. Since primary duty refers to several factors, including percentage of time spent, relative importance of duties, freedom from supervision, and pay relationships, it’s important to collect detailed information to determine the primary duty of the job.

In many companies, there are hundreds of active job classifications and it is not practical to test them all under the FLSA rules. So here is today’s Daily HR Tip:

Prioritize the jobs for review under the FLSA using the following criteria:

  1. Jobs with both exempt and nonexempt employees (non-exempts may be at entry level)Entry-level and lower-level exempt jobs
  2. Jobs in business areas or families that have undergone significant organizational change
  3. Exempt jobs that have the title “assistant manager” or “team leader” or “supervisor”
  4. Jobs receiving attention from the Department of Labor, the courts, or the media
  5. Known “tricky” jobs for which exemption may be more difficult to establish (e.g. pilots, paralegals, IT tech support, etc.)
  6. High-headcount exempt jobs
  7. Jobs involving long work hours
  8. High-level nonexempt jobs

Proper FLSA classification of jobs is important to ensure that employees are treated fairly and legally and that employers avoid unnecessary penalties, which, if audited, can include prison time for repeat offenders!

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