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  • What Tech Employees Should Know About Unpaid Overtime

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    Workers in the information technology sector, often called tech employees, have extremely demanding jobs that span long hours. They are also on standby to handle emergencies at all times and undertake major tech updates, even on weekends. Despite this rigorous job description, most companies only pay their employees in the IT departments a salary and ignore their overtime eligibility.


    With the lies and misconceptions surrounding overtime for tech employees, many miss out on months and years of overtime pay to which they are entitled. According to the FLSA {Fair Labor Standards Act}, all workers under the Act can get 1.5 times their standard rate of pay as overtime wages. Nonetheless, federal law is at times obscure, so it is challenging to know whether or not the provision applies to you.


    The following are a few facts for tech employees to understand the requirements they should meet for overtime.


    A Salary Will Not Make You Ineligible for Overtime

    Employers have a misconception that salaried employees are not entitled to overtime. This is the excuse given to most IT specialists and computer techs who are not paid hourly. However, the FLSA focuses more on what you do in your role rather than how you are paid. Moreover, for computer techs to be exempt from overtime, they must earn the minimum salary.


    The salary amount changes every October, with the annual minimum up to October 2021 being $98 907.70 and the minimum hourly wage being $47.48. If your pay was under the minimum rate allowed for the previous four years, you might still be eligible for the recovery of unpaid overtime irrespective of your duties.


    Your Job Title Makes No Difference in Overtime

    The title you hold at work is irrelevant to the FLSA. There is an exemption for ‘’learned professionals’’ under federal law, but most tech employees do not fit the bill. To be considered under the category, you should make more than $455 weekly on a salaried basis. Moreover, your work must be ‘’predominantly intellectual’’. This means you should understand issues, craft innovative solutions and exercise independent judgment for you to be considered a ‘’learned professional’’.


    Your Duties Might Exempt You from Overtime

    Even when you earn more than the minimum salary, you can still be eligible for overtime pay. This is because there are several requirements that your duties should meet to be considered exempt. However, these requirements are open to interpretation. As such, when you are unsure of whether or not a condition applies to your duties, discuss this with an employment lawyer.


    To be exempted from overtime, your duties should meet all the requirements below:


    • The duties should require independent judgment and discretion to handle. This generally means that you should have independent authority for making decisions. As such, if most of your work revolves around executing detailed instructions from other people, you might be entitled to overtime.
    • The worker handling a specific duty should be proficient in the practical and theoretical application of special information, programming software engineering, or systems analysis. This means that an employee should have achieved some higher learning level in school or on the job to make him/her ‘’highly skilled’’ at his/her tasks. However, entry-level personnel and trainees are specifically still entitled to overtime.
    • At least 50% of the duties an employee handles should involve one or more of the elements below:


    1. The application of system analysis procedures and techniques as well as consultations with clients to determine software, system, or hardware functional specifications.
    2. The designing documentation, analysis, testing, creation, and modification of computer programs or systems according to the system or user design specifications.
    3. The documentation, testing, modification, or development of computer programs associated with hardware or software designs for computer operating systems.


    In summary, under the duties exemption, you should be a programmer, make more than a minimum salary, and control most of your work for you to be exempt from overtime.


    You Can Get Overtime Based On Your Work Hours

    You might be able to claim overtime if you have worked for more than eight hours per day or forty hours in a week. In this case, you should meet the requirements below:

    • Earn a minimum salary.
    • Work in a trainee or entry-level position.
    • Spend most of your workday executing other people’s instructions.
    • Primarily handle technical issues or provide technical support.
    • Mostly work on debugging/testing.
    • Mainly handle the implementation of software.


    Most tech employees are told by their employers that they do not meet the qualifications for overtime. In fact, IT support specialists, a few software engineers, and computer technologists are classified under the exempt class in the wage and hour protections clause in the FLSA by their employers. With the above guidelines, you now know whether or not you qualify for overtime and can confidently claim it under the guidance of a local expert on overtime laws.

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