Computer and High-Tech Professionals

A specific exemption from overtime requirements exists for certain computer professionals and others working in a technological field, without regard to whether they are paid on an hourly or salaried basis.  However, if the worker does not meet the requirements of this exemption, the employee is not exempt from overtime even if paid on a salary basis (a salaried employee may still be able to meet one of the other white-collar exemptions provided in the law, depending on the worker's duties).

A computer software field employee is exempt from overtime pay if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The employee is primarily engaged in work that is intellectual or creative and that requires the exercise of discretion and independent judgment; AND
  • The employee is primarily engaged (spends more than half of his or her time) in duties that consist of one or more of the following:
    • The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures including consulting with users to determine hardware, software, or system specifications.
    • 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.
    • The documentation, testing, creation, or modification of computer programs related to the design of software or hardware for computer operating systems. AND
  • The employee is highly skilled and proficient in the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized information to computer systems analysis, programming, and software engineering (job title not determinative); AND
  • The employee's hourly rate of pay is not less than $41.00 per hour for every hour worked.

Non-exempt employees who have not been paid overtime that they were owed may recover wages going back three years (and in some cases four years) from the date a complaint is filed.  Click here for more details on exempt and non-exempt employees.

Conclusion

Given the high level of independent judgment and discretion and highly specialized knowledge this exemption requires, only a small subset of computer professionals will actually qualify for the exemption.  Moreover, few computer and high tech employees will fall under the other white-collar exemptions available to certain salaried workers.  In other words, whether you are a salaried or hourly computer professional in California, it is likely that you are entitled to overtime pay when you work the applicable number of hours.  For more information on the requirements of overtime, see our overtime page.  If you are a computer professional who has been told by your employer that you are exempt from overtime, contact the Carter Law Firm today for an independent analysis of your situation.