Exempt Employees: Your Rights Under California Labor Law

Updated: Apr 22

What Does Being "Exempt" Mean In California?


There are two categories of workers in every workplace: excluded and non-exempt. Employees who are excluded from minimum wage and overtime pay provisions are known as the former. This is since excluded workers are paid on a salary rather than by the hour, and they serve in executive or technical positions. Year-end incentives are often given to exempt workers to compensate for the type of job they do, as well as any extra work. A California Employment Attorney might be able to get you through the process of reclaiming your employment rights.


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Most employers are required by California labor laws to obey such regulations, such as paying overtime, recording hours, and offering rest breaks. The statute, on the other hand, allows for a number of significant exceptions to these provisions. An employee who is excluded from one or more of these exceptions is known as an exempt employee in most situations.


To decide if a worker is covered by a wage and hour exemption under California law, there are typically three basic requirements:

  • Minimum Wage.

  • For full-time jobs, the employee must be paid a salary that is at least double the state minimum wage.

  • Duties of a White Collar Employee.

  • Administrative, executive or technical roles must be the employee's primary responsibilities.

  • Independent Judgment.

  • The employee's job responsibilities must include independence and independent judgment.

If all three conditions are met, the employee will almost always be exempt from California's overtime, minimum wage, and rest break laws (but not meal break requirements). This exam, however, comes with many caveats.