Look at big picture to determine ‘Primary Duty’

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in Human Resources

Q. The duties test under the Labor Department's overtime regulations talks about determining the employee's “primary duty.” How do we determine that? —Marie, Pennsylvania

A. The old and the new regulations both say that you're looking for the person's most important duty—the reason you hired him or her. Was this person hired as a supervisor or so there can be another set of hands on the assembly line? You want to look at the relative importance of the employee's exempt duties versus nonexempt duties, the amount of time spent performing nonexempt work and how much supervision is exercised over the employee. A good rule of thumb is to look at whether they spend more than 50 percent of their time on exempt duties.

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