Computer Professional Exemption

California Labor Code section 515.5 defines who qualifies for a computer/technology professional exemption from overtime compensation. There are three main requirements:
(1) the employee must be doing work that is “intellectual or creative” and it should require “discretion and independent judgment,” which requires more than just deciding which procedures to follow but must involve substantial decision making that have real effect on the operation of the employer’s business. Generally, programming, coding and creating databases qualifies as such work as it involves inquiry and innovation and it affects the quality and the usability of the software created.
(2) The employee’s responsibilities primarily consist of “systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users:” these professionals must work in the “design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing, or modification of computer systems or programs” or similar work with computer programs “related to the design of software or hardware for computer operating systems.

(3) The professional employee must be able to engage in the “theoretical and practical application of highly specialized information to computer systems analysis.” It is important to note that the employee’s job title is not determinative of whether the job will qualify under this factor, and it’s the nature of the job performed by the employee in question that will determine whether the employee engages in these complex functions.

California employment law also requires that these employees be paid at least $36 per hour as of January 1, 2008 in order to be exempt from overtime. This figure is adjusted every year. It can also be expressed in annual equivalents. Thus, in order to be exempt in 2008, an employee under the IT professional exemption must be paid $74,880 per year if he or she works 40 hours per week; $93,600 for 50 hours per week; $112,320.00 for 60 hours per week, and so on.

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