Because Georgia does not have any direct laws regarding the payment of overtime to employees, Georgia employers will most likely be covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The Fair Labor Standards Act provides that employees who work more than 40 hours in a week are entitled to 1 ½ times their regular rate of pay for the hours above 40. For example, assume that Beth works as an accounts receivable clerk; her regular rate of pay is $10.00 per hour, and she works 50 hours in a week.  Beth’s compensation for the week should be $550.00 (40 hours x $10.00 = $400.00 + 10 OT hours x $15.00 = $150.00).  Although I have been asked on many occasions whether overtime pay would also apply to days for which an employee works more than 8 hours, or to work performed on the weekends, it does not.  The requirement to pay overtime is only applicable to hours worked in a week.

However, as with most areas of the law, there are exceptions to every rule.  The most common exceptions to the payment of overtime are called the white collar exemptions.  The white collar exemptions state that if an employee is an executive, professional, or administrative employee, he or she may be paid on a salary basis, rather than an hourly wage.

To be considered an executive employee, the employee’s primary duty is the management of a company or division, which includes the supervision of other employees, and having the ability to hire or fire other employees.  Examples of executive employees are restaurant managers, warehouse supervisors, and construction superintendents.

With respect to the administrative exemption, an employee must have a primary duty that includes the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer, and must have the ability to exercise discretion and independent judgment regarding matters of significance.  Some examples are administrative assistants, purchasing agents, and human resource managers.

The professional exemption requires the employee to have a primary duty that includes the performance of work requiring knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning that is normally acquired through higher education.  Professional employees would include doctors, lawyers, and accountants.

However, employers should be mindful that assigning an employee a job title that appears to fall into one of the exemptions mentioned above will not shield the employer from the requirement to pay overtime.  Rather, the employee’s job responsibilities and duties will be examined when determining if an exemption from overtime is applicable.

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